Biman misses over 30pc of its flight schedule

BimanProthom Alo illustration

More than 30 per cent of flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national flag carrier, depart much later than its schedule.

Of them, international flights are delayed more.

This was found from a report prepared using one year’s flight data of Biman, starting from 8 July 2023. It found that up to 50-60 per cent of the international flights were delayed in several months of the year.

Relevant officials say how punctual an airline is, can be understood from its On-time Performance (OTP). Taking off within 15 minutes of the schedule of a flight is globally considered as not delayed.

The Biman Bangladesh Airlines recently submitted a report on its one-year OTP situation to the parliamentary standing committee on civil aviation and tourism ministry.

The average departure OTP of aircraft in the one year is said to be 69.37 per cent while the average arrival OTP is 66 per cent. That is, more than 30 per cent of the flights miss their schedules in taking off and landing.

Speaking about this, Biman’s spokesperson and general manager (public relations) Boshra Islam told Prothom Alo on Tuesday that the flights are delayed due to weather, additional flights such as hajj flights, maintenance, and shortage of aircraft.

She further said currently Biman has 21 aircraft. It would have been better if this number was higher. However, effort is being made to increase the OTP, she insisted.

According to the Biman’s report, international flights from Dhaka have a higher rate of delay in departure than domestic flights. In March this year, OTP rate of Biman’s international flights was above 70 per cent. The rate was 39.35 per cent in January while it was 47.25 in December last year. The OTP rate in the remaining months was between 59 and 67 per cent.

Domestic flights delay less. Except for one month, their OTP was from 72 to 87 per cent in the last 11 months.

In the report, Biman has highlighted some of the reasons for the delay in departure of flights. Sometimes, it is not possible to comply with flight OTP of Biman due to lack of sufficient check-in counters at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, delay in giving boarding gate and giving multiple flights the same boarding gate. Lack of space in the departure baggage area also creates problems in fetching baggage containers. This also causes delays.

Apart from this, departures are delayed due to technical reasons (14.10 per cent), issues of civil aviation authorities (7.80 per cent), weather (7.80 per cent), delay in cabin cleaning, and delay in boarding of crews, it added.

Sources said Biman informed the parliamentary committee that some steps have been taken to ensure taking off of the flights on time. International counters are being closed one hour before flight departure and domestic counters 30 minutes before the departure.

Biman further said that training is being imparted to relevant work forces to enhance the ground handling capacity at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Inspection teams consisting of general managers and deputy general managers of various departments have also been formed.

Speaking about the overall situation, Kazi Wahidul Alam, a former member of Biman’s board of directors, told Prothom Alo that a 20 per cent flight delay is considered acceptable but it is more in case of Biman.

According to him, this could be due to various reasons, including some of the aircraft being old, lack of maintenance staff and so on.

Biman should take necessary measures to improve this situation. Otherwise, the negative attitude among people about the Biman will increase, he remarked.