Sloppy Biman stays grounded

29 Jun 2020 11:06 AM
Image collected
In the primary 17 days of the month, the country's two private airlines operated 552 domestic flights with 16,334 passengers, and the state-owned Biman managed just two carrying 24.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines operated the flights between Dhaka and Saidpur on June 1, your day the government eased the flights constraints. That was all. The business then gave up, saying too few persons were flying.

However, aviation sector insiders said the key reason why people weren't choosing Biman was that its tickets had been pricier than the types sold by private airlines US-Bangla and Novoair.

The private airlines had base fares at around Tk 2,000 after the coronavirus restrictions were lifted. But Biman's bottom fare was around Tk 3,000.

"Other airliners are available tickets at lower rates. But we don't wish to engage within an harmful competition," a senior Biman established said, requesting anonymity.

"Rather than domestic flights, we happen to be concentrating on chartered flights on foreign routes [and domestic routes], which are profitable," he added.

On June 4, Biman for the first time offered chartered flights on domestic circular trips for families at a price of between Tk 3 lakh and Tk 5 lakh based on the length and time allocated to the bottom. But nobody has so far shown any interest in taking the gives.

Biman CEO Mokabbir Hossain told a reporter the other day that the turnover from domestic flights was too tiny. 

"For Tk 2,000 airfare on a household route, the federal government takes Tk 538 in travel tax. With just Tk 1,462, how will we work the flights and purchase fuel and other activities?" he asked.

But Novoair and US-Bangla had foundation fares at around Tk 2,000 until the other day when the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh predetermined it at Tk 2,500.

Novoair Managing Director Mofizur Rahman said the purpose of the industry for the moment was to recreate the habit of flying found in people. Ticket prices are not the biggest concern right now. 

"We hope the quantity of passengers will rise when the situation becomes even more normal," said Mofizur, as well the secretary general of the Aviation Operators Association of Bangladesh.


Biman also did not launch the sales campaign needed to make contact with business after appearing grounded for over two months due to the pandemic.

US-Bangla and Novoair officials explained they were running promotions targeting social mass media and internet surfers. They also sent texts to persons highlighting their promotional offers.

A good Biman official said his business had not been using that avenue at all.

The flag carrier also stopped selling tickets through travel companies, which will need to have dented its sales, said Monsur Ahmed Kalam, president of Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh.

"The problem lies in its mismanaged and inefficient marketing strategies," aviation expert Kazi Wahidul Alam said.

"The efficiency necessary to resume something after an extended while had not been there ... Besides, Biman markets tickets only on their website, cellular app, and at a few sales centres. It generally does not use the travel companies and Global Distribution System like others carry out," he added.


Meanwhile, private airlines US-Bangla and Novoair have been flying their planes on four domestic routes.

US-Bangla Airlines has 13 planes, Novoair features seven, and Biman possesses 18.

By June 17, US-Bangla and Novoair flew 16,334 passengers, said Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, director of Hazrat Shahjalal AIRPORT TERMINAL, adding that the most recent data would be available soon.

Biman became a limited company in 2007 aiming to make profits and go independently.

MA Momen, who was simply the managing director and CEO at that time, said Biman may as well leave the domestic routes to private airlines, because domestic flyers certainly haven't any confidence in it.

"The private airlines will become feeder for Biman. They will carry passengers from numerous domestic airports to Dhaka and Biman will fly them abroad," he said.

After an extended losing streak, the flag carrier built profit for quite some time in a row when Momen was top rated it.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh resumed passenger flight businesses on a restricted scale on Sylhet, Saidpur and  Chattogram routes on June 1. Flights on the Jashore way resumed on June 11.