Biman focuses on freight service to make up losses

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Apart from the two airlines, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) temporarily permitted Meghna Aviation to operate cargo-flights between domestic destinations using its helicopter.

“As regular passenger flights were directed to be suspended from March 16-May 30, different airlines have applied to us to operate cargo flights, using passenger aircrafts or helicopters, to recover from their huge losses,” Air Vice Marshal Mafidur Rahman, chairperson of CAAB, told this correspondent yesterday.

“After formulating necessary guidelines, we have given temporary permission to three airlines so far, considering their losses,” added the CAAB chief.

Mohibul Haque, senior secretary at civil aviation ministry, told The Daily Star yesterday that for the first time, Biman was forced to go for air-freight operation to make money, as it has been suffering from serious cash-crunch due to the pandemic.

He said the national airline so far has incurred losses worth Tk 939.19 crore in the last four months since January, due to dwindling passengers and suspension of flights.

The senior secretary also said Biman will primarily use its two wide-bodied Boeing 777s for freight operation.

“We will use more aircrafts if we get more orders,” Mohibul said. “We will be able to go to any destination depending on demand and orders.”

He said Biman has already trained its ground and other staff so aircraft seats are not damaged while carrying cargo items.

Sources at Dhaka airport said Biman operated its maiden full-cargo flight on May 15, which came to Dhaka from China carrying medical equipment.

During normal flight operation, any aircraft can carry cargo items in its belly.

Although passenger flights remain suspended for the defined period, freight and special flight operations are ongoing.

Earlier from April, country’s leading private airline, US-Bangla, started operating cargo flights using its passenger aircraft.