What causes the chronic Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight delays? If authorities are to be believed, then the bane of the national flag carrier's services is traffic jams!
The Biman Bangladesh authorities recently chalked flight delays down to the Dhaka city's gridlocked roads.
At a views exchange meeting with the media on Wednesday at the Bangladesh Airlines Training Centre (BATC) auditorium in the city, Siddiqur Rahman, director, customer services of Biman, said, "When passenger attendance is very poor, we cannot take decisions about operating flights on time because it is very difficult for us to handle a huge number of passengers missing flights due to traffic jams."
He said the Airport Road gets clogged with traffic, resulting in only 2%-3% passengers reaching the airport on time.
Apart from that, Rahman also blamed inadequate immigration counters and lack of other infrastructure for Biman's flight delays.
"About 30,000 passengers come to the airport daily although the capacity of the airport is only 12,000 to 13,000," he added.
Biman's flight OTP (On-Time Performance) came down to its lowest 56% in recent times against the international standard of over 80%, according to the carrier.
Although Biman is blaming traffic jams for its flight delays, other foreign airlines operating from the same airport, however, have maintained their schedules, passengers claimed.
At the views exchange meeting, Rahman also blamed a lack of infrastructure for the delay in receiving luggage.
"There are eight luggage belts at [Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport] the airport but sometimes 12 to 14 flights land at a time, causing delays in the arrival of luggage on the conveyor belts," he added.
Moreover, the luggage offloading area is very narrow and both inbound and outbound luggage offloading is done from the same point, he explained.
For his part, however, Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, managing director of Biman, admitted that there was some mismanagement in the airlines due to a manpower shortage.
About the much-discussed Dhaka-Toronto flight, Kamal said that though the opening date for flight operation to Canada was set for 28 June, Biman has not yet begun selling tickets in full swing.
As a result, uncertainty looms over operating the flight on the scheduled date, he said.
The Biman MD also said the national carrier has not got a business licence yet to sell tickets through agencies. If Biman cannot sell tickets through agencies, it will not be possible to operate flights on the Dhaka-Toronto route, he added.
"Biman is also unclear about the business viability of the Dhaka-Toronto flight operation as it does not have a clear analysis in this regard," he said.
Asked if the Toronto flight operation will be viable for the carrier, the top executive replied that business viability will be known after flight operations begin.
"Biman will operate flights to serve Bangladeshi people; business is not our major concern," Kamal said.