A loss of Tk 1,223cr!
Two former top officials of Biman Bangladesh Airlines yesterday submitted their statement before a parliamentary body regarding taking lease of two Boeing 777 aircraft from Egypt, which led to huge losses at Biman.
They are Air Marshal (retd) Jamal Uddin Ahmed, former chairperson of Biman Bangladesh's board of directors, and Mosaddeq Ahmed, former managing director of the national airliner.
The parliamentary standing committee on the civil aviation ministry on September 8 directed the two to appear before the committee's meeting and submit their testimonies.
Leased from Egypt Air in 2014 for five years with stringent conditions that went against Biman's interests, the planes remained grounded from 2017, due to engine defects.
One was then returned to Egypt Air in July 2019 and the other in October of that year.
As per the lease agreement, Biman had to pay Tk 10 crore a month to Egypt Air, even if the planes remained grounded.
A probe by civil aviation and tourism ministry in March 2019 concluded that the terms and conditions of the "non-transparent" lease agreement clearly went against Biman's interests.
The probe body found that a section of Biman officials inked the non-transparent deal for personal gain, sources said, quoting the probe report.
A section of then Biman officials involved in the agreement signing actually did not want the planes to fly. They reportedly benefited while the planes remained grounded, sources in Biman said.
The revenue collected by operating the two aircraft was Tk 2,200 crore but the cost
was Tk 3,300 crore, according to sources at the parliamentary body.
It caused the national flag carrier to incur losses worth around Tk 1,223 crore.
Mohibul Haque, then secretary, civil aviation ministry, had said that Tk 1,223 crore spent on these age-old planes is more than the price of a brand-new plane.
Emerging from the meeting, the standing committee's chairperson RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury told reporters yesterday, "We have listened to them. They have submitted their statement in writing. We need to know more from them."
Talking to The Daily Star, Jamal Uddin said he has submitted his statement regarding taking lease of the aircrafts.
He declined to elaborate on his statement.
Contacted, some members of the parliamentary committee also declined to comment about the outcome of the meeting.