Biman still dogged by losses

Biman Bangladesh Airlines incurred a loss of over Tk 80 crore in 2010, though its chairman had earlier said it would make profit.

bdnews24.com
Published : 4 Jan 2011, 08:52 AM
Updated : 4 Jan 2011, 08:52 AM
Kamran Reza Chowdhury
bdnews24.com senior correspondent
Dhaka, Jan 4 (bdnews24.com) — Biman Bangladesh Airlines incurred a loss of over Tk 80 crore in 2010, though its chairman had earlier said it would make profit.
The national flag carrier spent over Tk 102 crore on taking four aircraft on lease to operate its flights, according to last year's audit report which is yet to be made public.
Biman managing director Muhmmad Zakiul Islam on Tuesday admitted that the board of directors had received the audit report conducted by two private firms.
The civil aviation ministry has sent a letter to the autonomous authority seeking clarification about the huge loss. bdnews24.com has obtained a copy of the letter.
"Yes, we've incurred a loss of over Tk 80 crore this year (2010)," Islam told bdnews24.com at his office.
"Taking aircraft on lease cost Tk 102 crore alone. During the last two years, we made profit at the cost of passengers' sufferings," he said.
"As we operated flights with our own aircraft, Biman had to cancel many flights causing sufferings to travellers. But Biman made profit," he said.
He said Biman made profits of Tk 15 crore and Tk 5 core in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
In response to a query from bdnews24.com on Biman's previous statement that the national flag carrier would make profit in 2010, the managing said, "We had hoped so".
Air Marshal Jamal Uddin Ahmed, chairman of Biman's board of directors, contradicted civil aviation minister G M Quader and had told media that the operator would make profit.
Quader, who was accountable to parliament for Biman activities without having any role in its management, last year had told media that the national flag carrier had no accountability and would make losses.
The minister proposed giving the civil aviation minister some authority over Biman regarding transparency and accountability. But the government did not take his suggestions and retained its status as a public limited company.
As per the audit report, Biman spent Tk 3,023 crore 76 lakh and 3,824 against its income of Tk 2,943 crore 62 lakh 40 thousand and 910 in 2010. The total loss stood at Tk 80 crore 13 lakh 62 thousand and 914.
The civil aviation ministry in its letter told Biman that the government made it a public limited company with a view to making it more dynamic and enhancing its capacity to survive in the competitive aviation business.
"Earlier, media carried many stories suggesting that Biman had become a profitable entity," the ministry letter said.
It said the government exempted Biman from the debts of over Tk 1,194 crore to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and over Tk 573 core to the civil aviation authority of Bangladesh. "Otherwise, the amount of the loss could have been higher."
"We've got the letter from the ministry and will send our reply," said the Biman managing director.
Biman carried about 15 lakh passengers on average during the last three years, said Islam adding that the operator did not face passenger crisis due to economic meltdown.
The national flag carrier has eight planes in its fleet. It often operates flights with leased aircraft.
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