Regent Airways has moved to shave off two aircraft from its fleet as part of its plan to ride out the financial crisis the local airline has been facing for two years.
The decision to return two Boeing 737 aircraft to the lessor will help the airline save $2 million a month, said Ashish Rai Choudhury, chief operation officer of Regent Airways.
“We took the decision as per the plan to reduce operational cost,” he said, adding that the new plan will pull the company out of the loss in next eight to 10 months.
Currently, the airline, owned by Chattogram-based conglomerate Habib Group, has six Boeing 737 aircraft and the number will come down to four after the fleet size is reduced.
The reduction in the number of aircraft will not, however, hit its business as the four aircraft are enough to operate the existing flights, Choudhury said.
The COO blamed high operational expenses and the fall in ticket prices for the losses in the last two years.
Airlines are selling tickets for a Dhaka-Chittagong one-way flight for Tk 2,500 whereas the minimum cost is more than Tk 3,000, largely because of the unhealthy competition among the domestic airlines.
Regent Airways owes the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) Tk 189.83 crore in airport charges as of February 2019 for not paying bills on time.
Of the total dues, Tk 122.67 crore is bill amount and the rest Tk 67.17 crore is surcharge, according to the Caab.
If an airline fails to pay airport charges, the flight operation is suspended as per Caab's rule, said a senior executive of the aviation authorities.
But the Caab is still allowing Regent Airways to run flights considering passenger's hassles and the airline's financial crisis, he said. Industry insiders say business operation is not viable for domestic airlines on international route. Still, they run international flights for mysterious reasons and incur losses.
The same has happened to Regent Airways: the airline began its operation in November 2010 on the domestic route. In 2013, it introduced international flights and within three years it fell into loss.
It runs flights on the Dhaka-Chattogram route among the domestic destinations and operates international flights to Bangkok, Doha, Kolkata, Kuala Lumpur, Muscat, and Singapore.
“As per plan, China will be our next international destination. We will also increase the number of flights to India,” Choudhury said.