New aircrafts to Bimanís fleet
Friday, 25 April 2008

But question remains

Bangladesh Biman launched in 1972 with some obsolete DC-3 aircraft left behind by PIA, becomes a national shame today.. By 2006, Biman was reduced to an almost derelict airline suffering from aircraft shortage, frequent breakdown in schedules and a fast diminishing network. Political influence resulted in the airline owing Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation more than Tk 1,000 crores. But it seems, there is a wind of change. Following the decision to make Biman a public limited company, a new Board of Directors took over a few months back. Free from any kind of political influence, the Board, headed by Special Assistant Mahbub Jamil, on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding with the US plane maker Boeing for the purchase of eight aircraft with option for four more at a cost of US$ 1.2 billion. Of the eight, four will be delivered by 2013 and the remaining four by 2019. In the meantime, Biman will lease four aircraft in which Boeing will help. The point is Biman’s problems were neither its fleet nor passengers, the problem was corruption. The airline had all the potential of becoming a highly profitable undertaking simply because of a captive ethnic passenger volume. Millions of Bangladeshis live or work abroad and all of them prefer Biman for journey home and back. All these passengers wouldn’t even mind paying a few extra dollars for flying Biman. But corruption has eaten up everything. Whether it is purchase or leasing of aircraft or maintenance or supply of spares a coterie patronized by political heavyweights reduced it to the most attractive milch cow. Many people made millions of dollars with the government appointed Board members looking the other way. We agree with Mahbub Jamil that a deal of this size is the first in Bangladesh. But our enthusiasm runs out of steam when we think that with eight more new aircraft, Biman might become a bigger playground for the corrupt. Question remains as to whether Biman will revert to its earlier position when political government returns. We would urge the new bosses to review the VRS under which over 1,400 employees left Biman.

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