Dhaka, March 15 -- Private sector airlines of the country are yet to be allocated the required space and allowed to construct hangars whereas organisations with one or two aircrafts or helicopters have been allowed to do so for reasons best known to the authorities.
?We wanted and applied for a 380 feet by 380 feet space when we started the airline, but years have passed and we are yet to get the space and permission to construct hangars,? lamented Captain Tasbirul Ahmed Choudhury, Chairman and Managing Director, United Airways (BD) Ltd.
?Scheduled airlines like United Airways, Regent Airways and NovoAir are also yet to get hangar space, but for reasons best known to the authorities, organisations with one or two helicopters or aircrafts have been given permission and allowed to construct hangars,? confirmed an industry insider.
"Had United Airways been given the space and allowed to construct hangar we could have done C-checks of our aircraft, saving a huge amount of foreign exchange. This would also have paid back in the form of technology transfer to our youths," said the airline's CMD.
"We need hangar as soon as possible as the number of our aircraft is increasing as is the need for their maintenance," he said, as aircraft suppliers and insurance companies ask whether we have hangar or not when we go for purchasing aircraft.
On a query about how much Biman takes for use of its hangar, he said, "We have to pay US$2300 daily. If any requirement, however small, arises at night, we've to wait for the next day as it is closed at night."
He also called for reduction in different charges taken by Biman. The airline charges US$3500 for engine start-up, whereas Air India provides all-inclusive services to MD-83 for just US$500 and less than US$400 for ATR-72s at Kolkata airport. If we keep any cargo at the Cargo Village of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, we have to pay a minimum of Tk 70,000.
Captain Tasbirul Ahmed Choudhury said, "United Airways (BD) Ltd will be receiving its fourth MD-83 by the second week of March. Two more ATR-72s are also scheduled to arrive. We hope to start services to Ishurdi after the arrival of ATR-72s."
"The introduction of the two 64-seater aircrafts will almost double the capacity of the airline in the domestic sector, now flown by the airline's Dash-8 aircraft," he said.
He said a United Airways team is in Singapore to look into how soon the airline can start operating to the city state where it has been allocate to operated seven flights a week.
The airline is seeking daily flights to Jakarta. He felt besides connecting Dhaka with Jakarta daily, United Airways will able to fly passengers to Jeddah via Dhaka.
United Airways is flying to Kuala Lumpur nine times a week and plans to fly 14 times a week from March.
There will be a delay in the arrival of Jetstream aircraft. "It's not off," he said. Fully equipped with ICU and life support, these will be used as air ambulances and made more affordable to common people than those providing similar services at present.
He again called for making unused airports usable. Giving the example of Comilla, he said given the traffic jam, people will be able to travel by air to the eastern city from the capital within 20 minutes.
?I believe the government will take it up seriously and make airports like Comilla, Shamshernagar, Lalmonirhat and Thakurgaon to airline like United Airways who have responded to the government's call for services to smaller airports.?
Recalling the years gone by, he said the growth in the number of airline passengers remained almost the same in two decades following the War of Liberation and it is only after United Airways came and took proactive steps that the number of passengers started increasing.
He again called for allowing airlines, other than Biman, to be allowed to be engaged in ground handling and to encourage them to procure equipment by lowering taxes and duties.
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