Biman Bangladesh Airlines has seen a sharp rise in ticket sales which the aviation ministry claims was due to a drive against corruption in ticketing.
There was a 52.72 percent increase in ticket sales, with earnings of Tk 413 crore this time around, compared to April of last year, according to Biman data.
Ticket sales picked up after the ministry dismantled a syndicate which had been manipulating seat booking, claimed Md Mohibul Haque, secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism.
The ministry uncovered the syndicate in December last year and began investigating it. Ticket sales started increasing from January, rising by 36 percent to Tk 1,404 crore in the first four months of this year compared to last year, Biman data shows.
Though the ticketing system is online, Biman officials used to operate it manually, Mohibul said, adding that a syndicate would block the tickets and sell it at a higher price to passengers through some travel agents.
As a result, many tickets remained unsold causing losses for Biman.
“We stopped manual ticketing…” he added.
Though Biman would fly with many empty seats until March, by the first of April, all tickets for the London flight had been sold online, said a senior executive of the ministry.
If the online ticketing system is sustained, Biman will see a profit at the end of the year, he added.
Last year, Biman made a loss of Tk 201 crore but in the first four months of this year it made a profit of above Tk 200 crore, according to the operator.
The recent ministry investigation uncovered massive corruption in ticket selling, which involved Biman’s then managing director AM Mosaddique Ahmed.
Following the ministry’s findings, the board of Biman removed Ahmed in April.
Director (Flight Operations) Captain Farhad Hossain was appointed as the acting MD and CEO of Biman.
While Biman’s profit has increased, it comes at a time when the aviation industry has experienced a number of changes with ticket prices and demand going up.
Fly Dubai and Etihad -- two airlines plying the middle-eastern route -- both halted operations in Bangladesh, Abdus Salam Aref, secretary general of the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh said.
Jet Airways, which served Dhaka, apparently went out of business too.
As this is the prime Umrah season, the number of middle-east bound passengers has increased but fewer flight options are available, he said, adding that these have increased ticket prices and demand.