Two months into the coronavirus pandemic, the authorities concerned of most domestic and state-run airlines have suffered a lack of Tk 13.61 billion over the months of March and April following suspension of most flights on both domestic and international routes.
If the situation continues further, the possible losses could soon add up to an additional Tk 10.01 billion in the months of May and June, said senior secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Mohibul Haque.
As the flight procedure remained suspended on all the routes because of precarious coronavirus situation, Biman Bangladesh Airlines has counted a loss of Tk 9.39 billion while US-Bangla Airlines Tk 2.5 billion, Novoair Tk 320 million and Regent Air Tk 1.4 billion till March-April, UNB reported citing the state.
“If the problem prolongs, then the state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines will face a loss of Tk 7.8 billion, while US-Bangla Airlines, Novoair and Regent Airways a lack of Tk 1.25 billion, Tk 360 million and Tk 600 million respectively,” he added.
Replying to a question about any possible retrenchment, Mohibul said, “In foreign countries, thousands of staffers of airlines have already been fired but we don’t want to go with that. In this situation, the authorities concerned have reduced the salaries of the staffers to 10-50 per cent.”
Asked about the further suspension, the senior secretary, said, “If the aircraft income doesn’t increase, there’ll be considered a little problem. However, we don’t need any profit when the problem returns to normalcy, we just want to keep it functional after disbursing the wages of the staffers. We’ll think about the profit later when the problem will be better as we’ve made a profit of Tk 4.6 billion before the lockdown.”
“At this moment, the aircraft company will make money using chartered and goods-laden aircraft, if needed; passenger aircraft will be used to carry goods,” he said.
Asked if the private airlines are disbursing salaries with their staffers, Mohibul said, “I’ve no idea about any of it and they were likely to have problems.”
Replying to a question about retrenching of any staffer of private airlines, Muhibul said, “He didn’t hear anything about any of it.”
Mohammad Mokabbir Hossain, Managing Director and CEO (CEO) of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said, “A credit card applicatoin was filed to the Bangladesh Bank seeking a Tk 15 billion loan as working capital but we received Tk 10 billion and it’ll be paid next one year with a 4 % interest.”
In the state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines, there are 600 staffers and the authorities concerned are facing trouble to pay their wages, said Mokabbir. In this example, he said, Biman has decrease the salaries of the staffers by 10-50 % as per your choice taken by Biman Board of Directors.
Replying to a question, the CEO, said, “There’s no decision on retrenching any staff and officials of Biman. We’re getting money from the Airport Ground Service by operating chartered flights.”
Besides, Biman will not take hardly any money on its cargo services from March 23 to May 10 following request of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
Mofizur Rahman, Managing Director of Novoair and also the General Secretary of Aviation Operators Association of Bangladesh (AOAB), said, “We didn’t get any solution regarding parking, sitting and hiring charges and payment of bank loan installments after filing a credit card applicatoin to the federal government.”
The aviation industry is under massive threat because of coronavirus situation as it has to pay the civil aviation charge, wages and maintenance cost, he said.
Sought comments on trimming down any workers, Mofizur, said, “I didn’t get any retrenchment news from anywhere. In Novoair, there’re 800 staff and we also paid the salaries of the staffers till date.”
Quamrul Islam, General Manager of US-Bangla Airlines, said, “There’re 1400 staff at US-Bangla Airlines and all of the staffers got the wages for the last month and there’re no retrenchment as the management is positive about any of it till now. We’re now counting a lack of Tk 1 billion each day.”
“It’s difficult to say what’ll happen in this sector if this situation prolongs. Even if the coronavirus situation goes well and the flight starts, there’ll still be problems because tourists will avoid visiting any country within the next few months while persons will travel less,” he said.
In line with the sources at Regent Airways, there are 700 staffers and following the announcement of lockdown, the authorities concerned have declared that they can avoid operating any flight on both domestic and international routes for three months.
Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) on, may 14 extended the restriction on scheduled passenger flight functions with all countries, except China, until May 30, aiming to prevent the spread of coronavirus.