Just two months ago, Biman Bangladesh Airlines shelled out $559,000 (Tk 4.7 crore) for thorough upkeep of a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 aircraft in the hope that it would fly without any trouble for the next two years.
But fate had other plans: on May 8 the 74-seater aircraft skidded off the runway of Yangon International Airport, getting completely wrecked in the process.
The $559,000 has completely gone to waste now, but the repercussion to Biman is more than that.
Other than reputational loss, the national flag carrier had to halve its daily flight frequency on domestic routes -- inflicting a minimum loss Tk 18 lakh per day, according to Biman.
Before the crash, Biman used to operate two daily flights to Jashore, Rajshahi and Saidpur from Dhaka with its three Dash-8 aircraft. Now, only a single flight is servicing each route.
The Dash-8s were used on the Kolkata and Myanmar routes. While the flight frequency on the Dhaka-Kolkata route has remained unchanged, the Dhaka-Yangon route was affected: the national flag carrier now runs one flight a week to the former capital of Myanmar instead of two previously.
Though a 172-seater Boeing 737-800 flight was added to the fleet recently, it will not be used on the domestic routes on grounds of economic feasibility, said a senior Biman official.
The reduction in Biman’s flight frequency has pushed up the price of tickets on the domestic routes and that too during the busy season of Eid, according to industry insiders.
For instance, the minimum ticket price has doubled to Tk 6,000 to Tk 8,000 on the Rajshahi and Saidpur routes following the crash.
The crashed Dash-8 had flown for four years out of its five-year leasing tenure. The monthly lease cost was $168,000 (around Tk 1.41 crore).
The aircraft has an insurance with Sadharan Bima Corporation, said Syed Shahriyar Ahsan, managing director of the state-run insurer.
Of the sum, Sadharan Bima’s contribution is less than 3 percent and the rest have been re-insured with foreign re-insurance companies, he said.
A foreign surveyor company was sent to Yangon to assess the loss of the aircraft. The owner of the aircraft, which is the leasor, will get the insurance amount.
The insurance also covers injured passengers and cabin crew and the cost of their treatment is now coming from Sadharan Bima.
In a primary observation over the incident, Biman found that the pilot landed the aircraft in his second attempt after failing in the first one because of heavy wind.
The aircraft has broken up into several pieces and is not in a position to bring back home, said the Biman executive.
Adverse weather is primarily blamed for the accident, said Civil Aviation Secretary Mohibul Haque, adding that there is no scope for it to face any technical glitch as no flight is allowed without check-ups.
“Weather was a factor but usually we land in such adversity,” said Captain Mohammad Nazrul Islam Shamim, the pilot of the flight. Shamim was badly injured in the incident and is now receiving treatment.
“However, we took immediate action to get the passengers out safely,” he added.
The Yangon Civil Aviation Authority is carrying out a probe to find out the exact cause of the crash.