Biman Bangladesh Airlines is back on a losing streak, four years after the national flag carrier was made a public limited company in 2007 to infuse dynamism in its operation.
According to Bangladesh Economic Review 2011 of the finance ministry the airlines incurred a loss of Tk 80.14 crore in fiscal 2009-10.
After it was made a PLC, the national carrier had bounced back earning a profit of Tk 15.58 crore in 2008-09 and Tk 5.91 crore in 2007-08.
The chairman of the board of directors of Biman, Jamal Uddin Ahmed acknowledged that the airlines had indeed incurred a loss in 2009-10, but described the figure mentioned in the Economic Review as incorrect.
He attributed the error to a mistake in the financial report of the airlines.
He said that Biman made a remarkable financial recovery in a short period after it was made a public limited company in July 2007.
He said that Biman had incurred a loss of Tk 272.10 crore in 2006-7 and 454.71 crore in 2005-6.
In early June, the civil aviation ministry asked Biman to explain, in a week, why it had incurred the loss in 2009-10.
‘We asked Biman management to explain the reason for incurring the loss even after it was made a public limited company,’ civil aviation minister GM Quader told New Age.
He said that the government was concerned about the state-owned airlines returning to losing streak.
‘We are awaiting a reply from Biman management in this regard before taking further steps.’
Jamal listed increased fuel price and ageing fleet as the main reasons for the loss incurred in the outgoing fiscal.
‘We must keep in consideration that Biman is still operating 34-year old DC-10s which consume more fuel than new aircraft,’ he said.
He said that money spent on fuel accounted for nearly 60 per cent of Biman’s total operational costs.
Jamal discounted the possibility of a change in the situation for Biman, because its major destinations in the Middle East are highly competitive.
But he described the loss shown in the Economic Review as incorrect.
He said that the mistake occurred because Biman’s financial report had erroneously shown that Biman owed Padma Oil Company Tk 56 crore for buying jet fuel on credit last year.
Actually, he said, Biman owed the oil company Tk 1.72 crore.
To cut down losses and overcome mismanagement and pervasive corruption, in June 2007 Biman management offered its personnel voluntary retirement reduce its manpower to around 3,000 from 6,800.
Responding to the offer, 1,876 officers and employees of the airlines resigned, with many of them complained it was done under pressure.
It paved the way for making the airlines a PLC.
Biman carries passengers and cargo to 18 international destinations in Asia and Europe.
Now its fleet comprises two Boeing 737-800s, four DC10-30s, three Airbus A310-300s and three Fokker 28 aircraft.
Biman said it already signed a deal for buying new Boeing 777-300ER, 787-8 and 737-800 for its fleet.
-With New Age input