Emirates Airline and the Sri Lankan government were locked in talks late Wednesday over a management contract for Sri Lankan Airlines, the Financial Times reported on its website. Executives from Emirates, the biggest Arab carrier, which owns 43.5% of Sri Lankan Airlines, met with officials of the Sri Lankan government, the controlling shareholder with 51%, to seek a renewal of a 10-year contract to operate the national airline.
The talks follow controversy last month, when Colombo cancelled the work permit of Peter Hill, the Emirates-appointed chief executive of Sri Lankan Airlines, over a spat in which the airline denied seats to an entourage led by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse.
A final decision on the partnership could come as early as Thursday. “It’s a very decisive meeting,” said a Sri Lankan Airlines official.