‘Richard Nuttal SriLankan’s acting CEO for three months only’ – Ashok Pathirage

  • Pathirage says will test Nuttal in that quarter
  • Adds CEO recruitment process began in August and still on going 




BY Shenal Fernando 

Amidst controversies surrounding the appointment of SriLankan Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Richard Nuttall as the acting CEO, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage stated that Nuttal’s appointment is only for a period of three months during which the airline will test Nuttal out. 

Speaking to us yesterday (2), Pathirage stated that the current acting CEO was previously a CEO of another airline and that the next three months will be used to test him out. 

Following the retirement of Vipula Gunatilleka as the CEO of SriLankan Airlines, Nuttal was appointed as the acting CEO, a move which is facing backlash at the moment, with people questioning the rationale and recruitment process. 

In August 2021, SriLankan Airlines placed advertisements through various media channels calling for applications for the position of CEO. This recruitment process was open to both locals and foreigners. 

Explaining further, Pathirage stated that this recruitment process is still ongoing contrary to rumours which claimed that the process has been suspended and that many candidates had applied for the position. 

Nuttal, who was appointed CCO of Sri Lankan Airlines on 1 November 202,1 is an aviation industry specialist with over three decades of experience, holding various senior management positions in the airline industry spanning five continents and covering multiple airline models. 

Some of the leading stints of his career are Saudia Airlines Vice President – Sales, Skyteam Airline Alliance Executive Board Member, Royal Jordanian Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, Bahrain Air Chief Executive Officer, Kenyan Airways Commercial Director, Philippine Airlines Board Member, and Polar Air Cargo Inc. Vice President – Sales and Marketing – Americas. 

Under his commercial leadership, Saudia Airlines initiated “Vision 2020”, a project encompassing product improvement, major growth, and improved profitability, which was able to achieve an overall growth of 30% in three years. During his tenure at Royal Jordanian, the airline showed an improvement in net income by $ 80 million, achieved through his strategic leadership for senior business personnel and external consultants.

Former SriLankan Airlines Group CEO and Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Vipula Gunatilleka was appointed on 1 August 2018 and retired on 31 December 2021 following the completion of his contract.