‘Rigid policies not letting us soar’: Bangladesh aviation industry insiders

Pointing to the high rates of surcharge and import duty on spare parts, Managing Director of Novoair mentioned at least three private airlines that had to ground their fleet.


September 16, 2022

DHAKA – Once a potentially lucrative industry, the aviation sector is now on the verge of collapse due to regulatory malfunction, excessive tariffs, and high jet fuel prices, said speakers and aviation experts at a media workshop yesterday.

They also said the country’s private airlines are struggling because Biman Bangladesh Airlines is being given undue advantages.

Aviation Operators Association of Bangladesh (AOAB) organised the programme titled “Aviation Industry in Bangladesh: Prospects and Challenges” in the capital’s The Daily Star Centre.Top officials of the country’s private airlines said foreign airlines operating from Bangladesh are making a huge amount of money carrying Bangladeshi passengers but the country’s private airlines are going out of business.

Pointing at the huge prospect of the country’s aviation industry involving around 7,000 people and an investment worth Tk 50,000 crore, AOAB President Anjan Chowdhury said, “We want to take this industry to a higher level and we need the government’s support regarding policymaking.

For example, he said, many foreign buyers after landing at the Dhaka airport use private aircraft or helicopters to visit different factories outside Dhaka to save time due to gridlock.

After placing work orders worth millions of dollars, they leave Bangladesh in the evening on the same day.

“Policymakers are yet to realise how we are earning foreign currencies for the country,” he added.

In the keynote paper titled “Challenges for the aviation sector in Bangladesh,” AOAB Secretary General and Managing Director of Novoair Mofizur Rahman said the country’s private airlines are going through tremendous challenges following the investment of thousands of crores of taka.

“We are facing obstacles in every step due to limitations regarding various policies of the government,” he added.

Pointing toward the high rate of surcharge and high rate of import duty on spare parts, he said GMG Airlines, United Airways and Regent Airways are examples of private operators that had to ground their fleet as the surcharge dues piled up.

“Ten private airlines so far spread their wings since the government allowed private airlines to operate in the country. But only two are currently operational. Unfair competition regarding seat and fare dumping of Biman has put the country’s two existing private airlines on the edge of the cliff,” he said.

He also mentioned that Biman is operating on domestic routes with losses as the government is subsidising them.

“But we will not be able to sustain in the long run if we are forced to operate in the domestic routes with losses. We don’t want cash incentives from the government. All we want from the government is just policy support to be able to take the country’s aviation industry to a new height,” added Mofizur.

Aviation expert Kazi Wahidul Alam said the civil aviation ministry should investigate why eight out of ten private airlines were forced to shut down.

He said the government should create a fair playground for all airlines. Otherwise, private airlines will not sustain themselves.

Another aviation expert ATM Nazrul Islam said the existing problems in the aviation sector need to be solved quickly through policy support.

“Only then the country’s aviation sector can create a strong position in the world’s aviation sector.”

Squadron Leader (retd) Lutfor Rahman, chief executive officer, US-Bangla Airlines and Capt Gulger Hossain, director, flight operations, South Asian Airlines, spoke at the programme among others.

Syed Ashfaqul Haque, executive editor of The Daily Star, and high officials of various airlines, helicopter companies, and flying schools were also present at the event.

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