When will Biman operate professionally?

Shahabuddin Ahmad
It is difficult to remember when the Minister and the Secretary of the Ministry of the Civil Aviation and Tourism spoke last about the performance of the national carrier, Biman, through a press conference. However, both of them in a press conference held on May 6 said about some steps taken for improvement of Biman’s operations. The Secretary said that Biman made a profit of Taka 143 crore in April last by selling Biman tickets. The Minister said that his Ministry was sincerely trying to bring improvements in Biman.
Biman’s Collective Bargaining Agent, Sromik League announced through a release to have a press conference on May 5 to discuss the present state of affairs of Biman but no press conference was held, it is learned and no press release was issued.
On May 8 an English newspaper has published a story that Biman’s sales of tickets have gone up and the paper has given comparative statements of total sales from January 2018/2019 to April 2018/2019. The paper said that this improvement has been possible as the Ministry has busted an unholy syndicate which was manipulating the sales of Biman tickets by withholding Biman stock to help foreign airlines operating from Dhaka to international destinations to have more passengers.
Biman’s accounts have all along been questionable, as never in the past Biman published its annual profit and loss statement nor it sent it to the parliament which is a statutory obligation of Biman.
When Biman had the old generation aircraft it used to serve 28 destinations nationally and internationally, but with the 10 new generation aircraft acquired from the Boeing Company, of which 8 aircraft have joined Biman fleet. It is serving only 15 destinations. Nobody knows when Biman will fly to New York, as the category of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is below the mark.
MD was dismissed for corruption
Meanwhile Biman’s MD has been shown the door for corruption and this has been confirmed by the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has forwarded a list of 10 employees of Biman including the MD recommending that these employees must not leave the country. ACC has also identified many areas of corruption in the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh.
The airline was made into a company in 2007 after some three and a half decades’ life-span of a corporation fully owned by the state. The aim was to get rid of some bureaucrats that were more of a hindrance than help. A retrenchment axed some 2200 employees. It was hoped that the metamorphosis would help infuse fresh life into the moribund condition of the state-owned corporation, but it did not happen.
Biman appointed, for the first time, a British national as its Chief Executive Officer but he could not serve his tenure and had to leave early. Another foreigner was also appointed as the CEO of Biman but he had also too leave keeping his tenure incomplete unfinished. The reasons for such departures were owing to interference in the activities of both these foreign nationals.
Biman has again advertised for the recruitment of a Managing Director, a Deputy Managing Director and an Executive Director and foreigners are eligible to apply for the post of Managing Director. It is learnt that 118 applications have been received for the post of Managing Director. 92 applicants are foreigners for the post of Managing Director. 22 applications have been received for the post of Deputy Managing Director and 9 applications have been received for the post of Executive Director.
A committee of four members who are also the Director of the Biman Board of Directors has been constituted and these four members are Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Engineer in Chief of Bangladesh Army, Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Bangladesh Air Force and the Managing Director of Bangladesh Biman.
Three foreign airlines which used to serve Bangladesh, namely, Ettehad, Fly Dubai and Jet Airways are not coming to Bangladesh now. And this is a golden opportunity to increase the market share of Biman by having more passengers. Has it happened? Will it happen?

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