Sonali Bank has approved Biman Tk 1,000cr loan to stay afloat

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Sonali Bank has approved a loan of Tk 1,000 crore to Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which sought Tk 1,500 from the state-owned bank as it was reeling from a fund crisis due to ongoing global travel restrictions thanks to Covid-19 pandemic.

The board of directors of Sonali Bank gave the nod at a meeting on April 30 on condition that the national flag carrier will give a sovereign guarantee, Mohibul Haque, senior secretary at the civil aviation and tourism ministry told The Daily Star yesterday.

The finance division has already given the sovereign guarantee to the bank on behalf of the national airliner, he said.

 Earlier, the Biman board of directors in a meeting last week approved the proposal of seeking the loan, Sajjadul Hassan, chairman of the board told this correspondent.

Biman sources said it got the loan under the prime minister’s recently announced stimulus package for the sectors affected by the coronavirus.

Biman will use the money to meet expenses of its permanent operation cost, including the salaries of its several thousand employees, Biman Managing Director and CEO M Mokabbir Hossain, earlier told this newspaper.

The airline incurred a loss of around Tk 450 crore in the last two months as it has been running with “no income” following the Covid-19 outbreak, M Mokabbir Hossain, said.

“Biman was forced to suspend its routes one after another since January and it incurred a liability of Tk 1,300 crore in the last three months,” he said.