Return to pre-Covid salaries: Pilots issue 4-day ultimatum to Biman
Aggrieved over their reduced pay and perks, Biman Bangladesh Airlines today gave a four-day ultimatum to the authorities to resume their pre-Covid 19 period salaries and pay them the same amount as other officials of the national flag carrier.
Bangladesh Airlines Pilots Association (BAPA), a platform of pilots of the national airliner, on Monday said they will no longer operate flights going beyond working hours as per their contracts.
According to the contract, a pilot is supposed to fly 70 to 75 hour each month.
Currently most of the 105 pilots of Biman, who fly international flights, have crossed their monthly flying hours, Captain Mahbubur Rahman, president of BAPA, told The Daily Star.
Biman is now operating flights to 17 international routes every day, sources in Biman said.
BAPA's decision has put Biman in trouble in operating its international flights on different routes on time, top officials of Biman have said.
For instance, a Doha-bound flight was scheduled to depart from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 6:30pm on Monday. However, the flight was delayed for more than three hours as designated pilot of the flight refused to fly the aircraft, Biman official said.
After making alternative arrangements, the flight later left the Dhaka airport for Doha at around 9:30pm.
Talking to The Daily Star, Captain Mahbubur Rahman said after discussion with Biman Managing Director and CEO Dr Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal today, BAPA has decided to give the four-day ultimatum till Saturday to realise their demand.
"We will resume our programme -- not to operate flights going beyond the working hours as per our contract -- if our demand is not met by that time," he added.
Captain Mahbubur said the airline's administration had given "false assurances" to the pilots that their salaries would be adjusted from August.
Biman MD and CEO Dr Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal said the Biman Board has decided that pilots will get overseas allowance on an hourly basis at Tk 5,000 when they operate overseas flights.
"But they are demanding that all pilots get overseas allowance on a monthly basis which is Tk 2.16 lakh," he added.
The Biman MD and CEO also said he will place the pilots' demand to the Biman Board meeting likely to be held on Saturday.
He admitted that flights of Biman faced disruption due to pilot's latest decision.
Earlier on July 14, Biman pilots threatened that they would refrain from flying additional or extra flights if the authorities of the national flag carrier does not address salary disparity between its pilots and other employees by July 30.
On May last year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the salaries of Biman's employees including pilots were curtailed to reduce the cost of Biman, a decision that irked the pilots.
Pilots' salaries have been reduced up to 25 to 50 percent. Overseas allowance which is a part of their fixed salary was also stopped. As a result, the total salary reduction rate stood at 57 to 65 percent. Several other benefits of pilots were also stopped.
According to an order in July, the airlines decided to deduct 10 percent of the salary of those who were in the pay scale from 6 to 8, and 15 percent for those who were above pay scale 9.
According to the same admin order, cockpit crews (pilots) having service age of 5 years will get 15 percent reduced salary, those between 5- and 10-years' service age will get 20 percent reduced salary and those over 10 years will get 40 percent reduced salary.
Capt Mahbub said due to the discriminatory decision, the salary of a senior pilot has been reduced to Tk 5 lakh.
The salaries of other officials of Biman have been adjusted in the last three months, but no action was taken to adjust pilot's salaries, he added.