July 14, 2024, 7:02 pm

Biman’s Hajj business shrinks for alleged ticket manipulation

  • Update Time : Saturday, June 15, 2024
  • 30 Time View
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  • Biman CEO demands compensation of $100 per passenger

TDS Desk:

For more than a decade, many aspirants have been unable to perform Hajj because ticket prices and accommodation costs have skyrocketed.

Last year, there were allegations of collusion involving some top officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, two foreign airlines—Saudia and Flynas—the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), and the Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB). The abnormal increase in Hajj package costs is reportedly due to this collusion.

This time, reportedly due to manipulation by the same syndicate, the cost of Hajj packages has increased, and there has been a reduction in the transportation of Hajj passengers through government arrangements.

Biman was supposed to carry 50%, Saudi Airlines 35%, and Flynas 15% of the passengers, according to the quota approved by the Ministry of Religious Affairs this year.

According to the quota and the flight schedule of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia, despite arranging for Hajj passenger transport, Biman authorities had to cancel nine Hajj flights due to insufficient passengers, attributed to the mysterious role of the Hajj agencies.

 

Biman authorities appealed to GACA to operate additional flights to meet the stipulated Hajj quota and avoid revenue loss as well as fines from GACA, but this request was not accepted.

However, Flynas was granted additional flight management slots outside of the rules. As a result, Flynas has already transported Biman’s scheduled Hajj passengers.

Biman’s Managing Director and CEO Zahidul Islam Bhuiya wrote a letter to the Ministry of Religious Affairs on June 11, complaining about the mysterious role of the Ministry, GACA, and HAAB in this issue.

However, the Biman CEO noted that Flynas will now carry those Hajj passengers, resulting in the Ministry’s decision not being implemented.

Biman insiders echoed the CEO’s statement, alleging that the incident happened because HAAB President M Shahadat Hossain is also the general sales agent (GSA) for Flynas and the managing director of Dynasty Travel Agency.

Biman officials further said the HAAB president managed to influence all parties to prevent other Hajj agencies from partnering with Biman, leading to the cancellation of nine scheduled Hajj flights and resulting in revenue loss and potential penalties.

Regarding the issue, the Biman CEO proposed compensation of $100 per passenger against the airline that carried extra passengers and violated ministry directions.

The Biman chief argued: “If an airline transports passengers in excess of the permitted quota, Biman Bangladesh Airlines is entitled to commercial compensation as per the established practice of the aviation industry as the affected airline.”

On June 13, HAAB President M Shahadat Hossain said that, “Even after the Hajj agencies deposited the money, they waited for several weeks for the Biman authorities, and then they arranged to send the passengers to other airlines.”

However, he could not show the receipt for the money deposit. He also could not provide a proper response to the violation of the rules regarding transporting extra passengers.

Hajj Director Saiful Islam, joint secretary of the religious affairs ministry, said : “We received the letter (from Biman). The matter is being looked at seriously.”

He said action will be taken after investigating why the Biman flights were cancelled and which airlines carried those passengers.

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