London Flight Delayed Due to Pilot Crisis
Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Biman flight to London has been delayed by roughly seven hours due to a pilot-crisis that arose from the indefinite work-halt by Bangladesh Airlines Pilots Association (BAPA).

The Dhaka-London flight was scheduled to take off at 6am on Wednesday, but was initially shifted to noon and then to 12.45pm, the Shahjalal International Airport control room told

BAPA went on an indefinite work halt from the early hours of Wednesday and around 40 pilots have declined to report to duty claiming sickness.

The pilot association's move came in the wake of the Biman authority's punitive measures against four pilots including the association's acting president and general secretary on Tuesday.

"Roughly 40 pilots have reported sick in the morning, which can cause major shifts in the flights schedule," Biman managing director Zakiul Islam told on Wednesday.

"However, the Hajj flights will not be disrupted as they have been exempted by the pilots," the Biman official assured.

BAPA acting president Zakir Hussain confirmed the official's claim, saying that Hajj and VIP flights have not been included in their work-halt programme.

"We are trying to resolve the problem by holding discussions with the pilots," he added.

The strike was called on Tuesday night after Biman authorities served notice temporarily suspending three pilots and asking another to justify his actions.

BAPA president Zakir Hussain, general secretary MA Basit Mahtab and AM Maqsud were suspended.

On Sunday, show-cause notices were issued against them for holding a press conference on October 20. BAPA gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the authorities asking to meet their five-point demands and declared not to carry out any duty beyond their contract.

The pilot association demands include withdrawal of a Biman order illegally increasing maximum age limits of five pilots from 57 years to 62 years.

Those whose age had been illegally increased are : Capt Mozammel, Capt Ali Ashraf Khan, Capt Nasir, Capt Akhtaruzzaman and Capt Selim.

The pilots' demands also include cancellation of wet lease (leasing an aircraft with complete crew, maintenance, and insurance) and launching of dry lease (leasing only aircraft), preventing a management blue-print for increments of Biman officials in the name of combining personal dues, reappointment of two Biman officials who have been removed recently, and buying necessary equipment and increasing manpower for standard ground handling.

A Biman press release issued around 6pm on October 21 said the management think the pilots had 'unwarrantedly meddled' in the issues and tried to 'instigate' other officials of the state-owned airlines.


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