Sri Lanka’s President Is in a Feud With Its National Airline Over Nuts

Sep 11, 2018

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Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena is not happy with the nation’s flag carrier. His misgivings aren’t about Sri Lankan Airlines’ numerous issues, like its widespread allegations of corruption or the fact that it’s racked up at least $1 billion in debt.

Rather, Sirisena is upset about several cashew nuts he was served on a flight from Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM), to Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB).

According to the BBC, the president became irate when he was served the in-flight snack, stating that the nuts were not even fit for dogs.

“When I returned from Nepal, they served some cashew nuts on the plane [that], let alone humans, even dogs can’t eat, who approves these things?” he said to a farmers’ conference in Southern Sri Lanka. “Who approved the cashew? Who is responsible for this?”

The packet of offensive cashew nuts echoed a similar situation on Korean Air in December 2014 in which an executive with the airline threatened, hit and shoved a flight attendant for serving her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a porcelain bowl. Seated in first class on a flight from New York (JFK) to Seoul (ICN), the executive and CEO’s daughter, Heather Cho, also demanded the plane be turned around so the offending flight attendant could be removed from the aircraft. That incident, dubbed “Nut-Gate” or “Nut Rage” by the aviation community, landed Cho with a one-year prison sentence, of which she served five months.

It remains unclear exactly what was so off-putting about the cashews to Sri Lanka’s president. Sri Lankan Airlines is currently undergoing a presidential investigation (for corruption allegations… not the cashew debacle).

Featured image by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images.

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