Caption: WhatsApp message, source: WhatsApp messenger.
Context: SriLankan Catering is a fully owned subsidiary of loss-making national carrier, SriLankan. The government is in the process of divesting the airlines under the reforms it has undertaken with the $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The social media message circulating now suggests that SriLankan Catering has only recently begun selling meal packs commercially as if to cover for losses.
CIR Authenticator found that the new venture has been started in the fourth quarter of 2020. The food packs displayed in the picture are a range of ready to eat frozen meals released to the local supermarkets, under the branding of ‘Cuisine Gastronome’. As per the Annual Report of SriLankan Airlines for 2020-2021, the venture was expedited as an alternate revenue source during COVID-19 struggle.
Caption: Sri Lankan Airlines Annual Report 2020-21, source: https://www.srilankan.com/pdf/annual-report/SriLankan_Airlines_Annual_Report_2020-21_English.pdf
Currently, these meals are shelved in most supermarkets in Colombo and the suburbs, while also being exported to Australia, USA and Canada. These products are made in the same flight kitchen at the Bandaranaike International Airport used to prepare in-flight meals for the airline.
VERDICT: True, but the venture was launched in 2020, and not recently. During 2020/21 SriLankan Catering was running at a net loss (before taxation) of 960 million Sri Lankan rupees. However, the Annual Report 2021/22 reveals that the company recorded an operating profit of 474 million rupees. While this is mainly owing to the increase in passenger arrivals after the pandemic, it was also reported that the turnover from other ancillary business activities (to which this venture belongs) increased by 195%.
Caption: Sri Lankan Airlines Annual Report 2021-22, source: https://www.srilankan.com/pdf/annual-report/SriLankan_Airlines_Annual_Report_2021-22_E.pdf