Biman stuck in quagmire

  • The start of operation in five routes by Biman Bangladesh Airlines is likely to be delayed

With its board dissolved, the airlines faces a crisis in major decision making while the start of operation in five routes is likely to be delayed  

Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national flag carrier that’s only known for problems, now confronts a new crisis. After the board of directors has been dissolved, all policy decisions get stuck in a quagmire.

As a result, the scheduled resumption of operations in two old routes and launching of three new routes in April have become uncertain as the board’s final approvals are still pending.

A high official of Biman said the civil aviation and tourism ministry had lately dissolved the airlines’ the highest decision-making body as it “failed to hold” annual general meeting (AGM) within the stipulated time.

He, however, said as per the Companies Act the ministry had no right to dissolve the board before holding AGM.

The airlines suspended its operation in Dhaka-Delhi and Dhaka-Hong Kong routes two years ago, but recently decided to resume operation along with introducing three new routes – Dhaka-Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dhaka-Male (Maldives) and Dhaka-Guangzhou (China).

Biman officials said the preparation to start operation in the routes has been stopped due to dissolving the board.

At a meeting on 27 December last year, the board decided to resume flights to Delhi in February and to Hong Kong in April, and to commence operation in the three new routes in April.

The meeting said the working papers on launching operation in Guangzhou, Colombo and Male routes were ready while preparation of business case to resume Delhi and Hong Kong routes was near to completion.

Although Biman was supposed to start sales at least two months before commencement of operation, lack of decision hampered the work.

Besides, business case preparation for Delhi and Hong Kong routes and working papers for Guangzhou, Colombo and Male routes were to be placed at the next board meeting. Officials said in-house preparation to begin flights in the five routes would continue, but as the board’s final approval was required to start sales, the operation could be delayed.

“Although the Biman management is now unable to take major decisions, routine activities are in progress,” Biman Acting Managing Director and CEO Asaduzzaman told the Dhaka Tribune. He hoped that all problems “will be solved soon.”

Appointment of GSA and renewal of GSA agreements for different stations are also required.

Appointment of GSA (cargo) in China (action on progress), appointment of GSA (passenger) in Hong Kong (proposals received through RFP, scrutinised and short-listed) remain pending for approval of the board’s sub-committee on marketing and sales.

To launch flights in five routes, there is an urgent necessity to fly worthy of all aircraft. One Boeing 777-200 ER is grounded due to non-availability of engine parts.

A Biman official said overhauling of Biman PW4090 Engine SAI 222031 and 222166 at United Airlines, USA of leased 777-200ER faced an unscheduled engine surge event and metallurgical failure of FIPT Stage 2 blades and suffered severe internal damage with inflight shut down in February 2015.

Another ESN 222166 i>f ZI-ZOOER was removed from the aircraft due to HPT blade distress. Both the engines were sent to United Airlines for repairing.

Due to non-availability of engine parts, it was decided to exchange modules between the two engines and accordingly majority of modules was installed from ESN 222031 to ESN 22166. After the engine sl no. 222166 has been tested, now it is ready for delivery.

United Airlines submitted an interim invoice of $16.6m. Biman already paid $6.124m and upon payment of another $10.00m against ESN 222166, Biman can take delivery of the engine which needs approval of Biman board.

Payment of $10m to United Airlines to bring back the overhauled engine sl No. 222166 for operation of leased 777-200ER aircraft is “very urgent, which also requires approval of the board,” said an official.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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