11:00 PM, August 29, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 29, 2009

UN staff asked to skip Biman

Its services deemed too risky for flyers; new Biman boss unaware of such development

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Rashidul Hasan

The United Nations has asked its staff not to fly Biman Bangladesh Airlines for lack of safety and security arrangements and flight delays, landing another blow to the reputation of the national flag carrier.
The UN Division for Security Services issued a directive two years ago deeming Biman too risky for its staff. Any UN employee wishing to fly Biman would have to do so at their own risk, said several UN officials in Dhaka and New York.
The decision was based on Biman's past records of safety, regularity, delays or cancellation of flights, service quality, condition of aircraft and business goodwill, according to a high-level UN official.
It also prevents an UN staff from claiming life or accidental insurance coverage if he or she flies Biman.
"I am going to Dhaka from Nepal by Biman Bangladesh Airlines at my own risk. If something bad happens on the way, neither I nor my family will be able to claim any compensation," a New York-based UN official told The Daily Star, wishing anonymity.
The official said his UN agency has instructed its staff not to fly Biman.
Biman's newly appointed Managing Director Air Commodore (retd) Zakiul Islam said he was unaware of the UN directive but he admitted that Biman is facing problems in managing flight schedule.
Zakiul however said the situation would improve once three Boeing aircraft are added to Biman's existing fleet.
The UN directive follows a host of complaints against Biman's poor flight management from other institutions.
On November 2, 2007 several international airports including London's Heathrow Airport strongly criticised Biman for its repeated failure to maintain flight schedules and threatened to cancel its slots.
Several airports also threatened Biman with fines if it continued to miss slots, which occurs if the airline makes delay in arrival and departure, sources said.
Heathrow Airport agreed to allow slots for Biman on the condition that it maintains at least 80 percent of its flight schedule.

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