Biman flights go haywire
Technical glitches grounded all five key aircraft of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Friday causing untold suffering to over 2,700 passengers at home and abroad.
The three DC-10-30s and the two Airbus Biman has were scheduled to fly to five major international destinations--Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah and Rome, Biman sources said.
The five departing and return flights were supposed to be loaded to aircraft capacities. At least 2,784 Biman passengers were stranded at Zia International Airport and other international airports, a high official of Biman told The Daily Star.
Biman's flight schedule for other destinations also suffered a blow. Delays tormented those passengers as well. Biman's international flights of yesterday and today suffered 10- to 30-hour delays and the backlog will not go away until Tuesday, said a Biman official.
Incoming and outgoing passengers are staying in different hotels. "We are also informing passengers about the delays to reduce their worry," said Abdul Mamdud Khan, general manager (central) Flight Operations.
Biman sources said three of the five grounded aircraft were mended and went on service.
Biman Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Air Commodore (retd) Zakiul Islam told The Daily Star that they are trying to recover from the problem as soon as possible.
"An aircraft may become unserviceable due to technical glitches and it's normal. Our engineers are trying to remove those glitches," he added.
He said many of the aircraft in Biman fleet are old, some of the planes that fly international routes are 29 years old. He hoped that the situation would improve once the 10 Boeings Biman has ordered for starts to join the fleet from 2011.
The Biman MD also said they are trying to lease aircraft to tackle the current situation.
Despite cutting flights on several routes, Biman is frequently failing to maintain its flight schedule, which is eventually contributing to the loss of its market share, said Biman insiders.
As an "easy remedy" to flight schedule chaos, Biman stopped flying on 10 international routes in the last two years and recently reduced flight frequencies on five profitable routes--Riyadh, Jeddah, Kuwait, London and Rome, Biman officials said.
The national flag carrier is currently going to 16 international destinations.
Apart from the two 11-year-old Airbus planes, it has aircraft aged between 17 and 31 years, commented its pilots and officials.
Biman presently owns three types of aircraft--three 29-year-old DC10-30s, two 31-year-old F-28s, and two Airbus A310-300s. The F-28s fly only on domestic routes.
Production of DC10-30s and F-28s has been discontinued because of their lack of viability in business.