Emirates has entered detailed talks with the Sri Lankan Government to acquire management control and a 40% equity stake in flag carrier Air Lanka.

The Dubai-based carrier was selected from a shortlist of potential international bidders. A Government technical evaluation committee says that Emirates was the only contender to meet all the qualification criteria.

A Government privatisation board has been seeking since August 1995 to offload 40% of Air Lanka's stock to a strategic investor. The state plans to retain the balance of shares, as well as control of the seven-man board.

Others interested include China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, TAESA of Mexico and Thai Airways International. Virgin Atlantic had also expressed an earlier interest in helping to manage the flag carrier.

Source: Flight International