Biman Chairman Criticises Minister over Cabo Air
Thursday, 19 August 2010

Biman chairman Jamal Uddin Ahmed has openly criticised aviation minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader over his decision not to charter the Nigerian company Cabo Air to carry Hajj pilgrims.

This followed criticism previously made by the parliamentary standing committee chairman Moinuddin Khan Badal.

The Biman Bangladesh Airlines chairman argued in favour of the charter of a '24-year old' and 'disputed' aeroplane of Cabo Air, a Nigerian company, which the minister had opposed.

Calling some reporters to his office at Balaka Bhaban, he questioned: "Why can't we allow the Cabo's plane to carry Hajj pilgrims if we allowed them for the last two years?"

He also criticised the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh for not registering the Cabo's plane Boeing-747 model.

As set out in the rules, all operators must get registration from the CAAB to fly planes from Bangladesh. The CAAB does not register aircraft over 20 years of age.

But the ministry can overrule the CAAB rules and allow older aircraft to fly without CAAB registration during the emergency.

Biman signed a deal with Cabo Air in November 2009 for a charter flight to carry Hajj pilgrims, which expired in May. The flight however operated for two more months without CAAB registration until the end of June.

The airline left Bangladesh on June 30 as the ministry did not permit re-register.

The minister argued against chartering the flight on the ground that it was 'old'.

Pointing to Quader, Ahmed said that International Civil Aviation Authority had classified Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority as 'catagory one', whilst CAAB is in the second catagory.

"If so, how can Bangladesh challenge Nigeria's plane? He (GM Quader) may as well answer this."

On Friday, Quader told that the Saudi Arabian government has issued a warning to Bangladesh's civil aviation authorities over operating old aircraft to fly hajj pilgrims to the country.

He also said the Saudi authorities had sent a letter to CAAB saying they would physically inspect all aircraft over 20 years of age if Dhaka tried to operate such planes to carry hajj pilgrims.

The Saudis would not allow such old planes to land in order to protect the safety of their airports, and restrict other aircraft if their physical condition and maintenance system failed to meet international standards, he also said.

About this, Jamal said, "What steps did CAAB take until June when the Saudia Airlines operated their regular flight with eight old aircrafts?"

"The aeroplanes were aged between 22 and 29 years."

Asked why he is arguing for the Nigerian company's aircraft though it is old, he said, "Which will you take between a Tk 10-thing, which is 10 years old and a Tk 100 thing, which is 20 years old?"

The Cabo airplane would charge $ 5300 an hour, but two Ausban Aeronautical Services planes would charge $ 9600 for an hour to carry Hajj pilgrims, he said.

The aviation minister himself had requested chartering the Cabo flight last year for carriage of Hajj pilgrims, he also alleged.

Badal on Thursday alleged that the minister violated the parliamentary norms by not attending the committee meeting.

He also said that the committee should investigate the role of the minister's daughter and son-in-law in the lease of the Australian operator.

Biman chairman Ahmed, however, said that it is Ausban that had tampered with the tender paper, not the ministry.

Quader on Monday said he had formulated a proposal seeking the power to hire and fire members of Biman Board of Directors, which now lies with the prime minister.

The proposal will be sent to the prime minister pointing out that the change has become necessary for making the national carrier more effective and efficient, he said.

"There is lack of transparency in Biman. They flout government orders and never come to the ministry in matters of taking decisions."

"But the ministry has to take ultimate responsibilities for Biman," said the minister, "They have refused my request to launch flights on the routes inside the country."

He said, "I can't take action against them for inattention as I don't have the power to hire and fire the board members."

Asked about this, Biman chairman Ahmed said, "No work takes place in Biman, which the ministry does not know about, as the ministry's secretary is a member of the Biman's board of directors as the ministry's representative."

"We have nothing to do if the ministry and the secretary are in conflict. In addition, the details of the substance of the board meeting is sent to the ministry."

"I have met him six times in the last one and a half year at his ministry and shared everything with him, but he has never called me at my office (Tini Amake Kokhono Daken ni)."

Talking about the minister's attempt to have the power to appoint members of Biman's board of directors, he said, "Biman will then again lose money."


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