The following article was published in the Daily Independent of Dhaka yesterday. The Minister of Civil Aviation claims Biman is certainly getting better with time, but which 'lying' Civil Aviation Minister of Bangladesh hasn't?
Biman getting better? I really doubt it ... but there is no harm in keeping my fingers crossed
source : www.independent-bangladesh.com
Biman getting better
The management of Biman Bangladesh Airlines was weak. There was no accountability and transparency. It was hostage in the hands of the unions.
Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism stated this to the writer recently, while describing prevailing situation in Biman when he took over the charge of the ministry two year ago.
" In a free for all situation and unions used to dictate administrative measures. Interference of the unions used to jeopardize day-to-day functioning of the national flag carrier," the minister said.
He said, "with huge debt burden Biman was in bad financial shape. Various bad deals cost Biman dearly. Services of Biman was bad and passengers were losing confidence."
The deplorable situation, Mir Nasiruddin said, prompted him to initiate measures to plug-in wastage and pilferage as well as cut cost. The action has produced good results. Introduction of transparent and accountable system in ticket booking and reservation has drastically reduced the incidence of empty seats when no seat was available at counters.
The minister listed a number of measures and favourable impact of those.
He said due to various actions, things have changed in Biman and administration has now become more disciplined and accountable. Customer services at airport has been improved and Service Desk has been instituted to monitor the situation and take care of the various problems including safely of luggage.
Mir Nasirudding said re-negotiation of lease terms for two DC-10s and two
Airbus A310 has saved Biman USD 1,72,000 equivalent to Taka 20 million per month. Reduction of cost of DC-10 D-check from USD four million to USD 2.68 million has saved Biman USD 1.32 million per aircraft per check. D-check of F-28s are now being done in Dhaka, resulting saving of Taka 68.2 million per D-check for the national flag carrier
In the regard, the minister lauded the efficiency of engineers of Biman and said despite their efficiency the engineers could not work properly due influence some bad elements. These bad elements are now being shunted out, he added.
The minister said that income from the cargo complex at Zia International Airport (ZIA) has gone up by stopping pilferage of weight. During the secong half of 2002 (July-December) the Cargo Complex earned Taka 900.6 million by handling 14,758 metric tons of export cargo.
This was Taka 210.6 million more than the earnings of the same period of the previous year. This has been achieved simply by posting efficient and honest officer. Privatisation of Biman canteen has also resulted in saving of Taka 10 million a year, he added.
By avoiding lease of aircraft for seasonal hajj operation and carrying out the operation by its own fleet, Biman has been able to save Taka 400 million in foreign exchange for both 2002 and 2003, the minister said.
He also informed that re-negotiation of ground handling and food supply deals at different foreign stations, Biman has been able to reduce cost on these accounts significantly.
Mir Nasiruddin said various measures-including reduction of price of raw materials such as meat-at Biman Flight Catering Centre (BFCC) not only cost of food preparation has gone down, but also help improve the quality. This improvement has attracted a number of airlines including British Airways, Qatar Airways, Dragonair and Uzbekistan Airways lift food from BFCC. Crores of Taka wastage and pilferage has also been stopped at Biman Flight Catering Centre.
One of the major cost reductions has been achieved in crew-accommodation at different foreign stations. By re-negotiating with hotels, Biman has been able to achieve over Taka 21 million annual cost reductions on this account.
The minister mentioned that introduction of discounted fares on Chittagon-Dhaka and Sylhet-Dhaka sector of international flight resulted in additional income of over Taka 70 million.
He also mentioned reduction of manpower in foreign stations by 25 percent has saved the airline Taka 20 million a year. Pilot training by Biman's own instructors instead of foreign instructors will save significant amount of foreign exchange, he added.
About the fleet position of Biman, Mir Mohammad Nasirudding said with two ATPs and three F-28s and two Boeing 737s the fleet position of domestic sector is stable. But for international route, fleet planning is now underway, he said.
Biman, the minister said, has carried 14,23,396 passengers during 2001-2002 financial year-the highest in its 30 years' history.
The minister informed that both Boeing and Airbus have agreed to do fleet planning for Biman free of charge and have already started working on it. On the basis of the undergoing studies, type of aircraft will be selected. He also said instead of purchase, Biman would go for lease of aircraft for its international operation.
However, the minister did not say anything about two most vital questions. These are re-structuring of Biman Management on commercial line and now dormant privitasation effort.
Mir Nasiruddin said that for the development of tourism in the country, steps have been taken to provide government land and bank loan on soft terms to private sector entrepreneurs in light of the 1992 National Tourism Policy.
He said steps have also been taken to develop international standard tourism facilities on 150 acres vacant land of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation at Coxs Bazar on Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) system. To generate competition instead of allocating the entire land to one party, the land would be divided into four parts and would be allocated to private parties on long lease.
About the current development programmes, the minister said, initiatives have taken to develop Parky sea beach under Anwara Police Station of Chittagong and Faye's Lake in Chittagong. New motels have been constructed at Bogra, Benapole, Bandarban and Khagachari.
The minister also informed that plans have been taken to construct 5-star hotels in Dhaka and Chittagong. Steps have been taken to develop new tourism facilities at the Sundarbans and Kuakata. Moreover, construction works of international standard motel and shopping complex on the location of motel Saikat will start soon.
Mir Nasiruddin informed the Bangladesh Monitor that a new project styled as "Up gradation of Zia International Airport" has been taken up. Under the project, re-carpeting of taxiway and installation of lighting, procurement of new radar and other modern communication equipment will be done.
He further said, installation of second at the other side of the runway has been completed. This will facilitate landing of aircraft by both sides of the runway all the year round.
The minister also informed about introduction of separate customer service desk at ZIA, replacement of brick wall by transparent glass panel at inside of arrival lounge, completion of multi-stories car parking and constitution of mobile courts to stop harassment of passengers.
Mir Nasiruddin also informed that to encourage private sector to operate on international routes, the government has adopted policy framework. Under this policy framework, permission to private airlines would be given.