In the last five years, Biman Bangladesh has lost over Tk 10 billion due to two Boeing planes chartered from Egypt. According to the civil aviation and tourism ministry, the revenue from operating the two aircraft was Tk 22 billion. And the cost behind those planes was Tk 33 billion. As a result, the authorities counted a loss of Tk 11 billion.
The investigation report of the civil aviation and tourism ministry and the parliamentary committee of the ministry have revealed the loss. According to the report, there was a lacking in verifying the capacity of the engine at the time of making this decision, which was against the interests of Biman. The technical committee also did not perform its duties properly. But no action has been taken against anyone in this regard.
Biman chartered the two aircrafts in 2014. Within a year, an engine of the first aircraft broke down. Another engine was rented from EgyptAir to keep it running. After a year and a half, that engine also went out of order. One more engine was rented, which also got damaged. The Biman, however, had to pay for the engine every month.
Earlier, a parliamentary committee of the 10th parliament had investigated and said that the financial loss of Biman in three and a half years was Tk 3 billion. The question is how did that loss increase to 11 billion? It cannot be accepted that the amount of loss has multiplied due to the lax of responsible persons of the government.
Earlier, the decision to hire the aircraft was described as “suicidal” and the airline authorities were said to be keen to charter new aircrafts than buying for mysterious reasons. Were we awake or asleep? Everyone understood everything but why did no one say anything for so long?
The government takes capricious decisions that result in negative outcomes. Biman was made a public limited company in 2007. Aircraft was chartered under the leadership of the chairman of the company that time. It is said that the chairman of Biman did not heed to the advice or recommendation of the ministry as he was close to the government. Now the government feels that it was not a right decision to make the Biman a limited company. That is why the cabinet on 14 September approved the draft of a law giving the aviation ministry the control of Biman.
Biman lags behind in the quality of service, punctuality and in many other areas. Currently, the number of aircraft in the fleet is 18. Biman celebrated its 48th anniversary on 4 January this year. Out of that 48 years, the organisation incurred loss in 28 years. In 2017-18 fiscal, Biman suffered a loss of Tk 2.01 billion, but in 2018-19 fiscal, Biman authorities showed Tk 2.18 billion as profit. There were questions about Biman’s claim though. Amid this continuous counting of loss, it is not acceptable that the national carrier would pay a huge sum for chartering aircrafts.
The issue was discussed at a parliamentary committee meeting in September. During the meeting, the ministry said that the lease has been cancelled after paying the dues in March this year and Biman returned the aircrafts. This cannot end there. The question is, who and why agreed to charter the two planes? Is it very difficult to find them? Those who are responsible for this loss of tax payers’ money for their personal gain must not be spared.