Aviation Operators Association of Bangladesh (AOAB) secretary general Mofizur Rahman on Wednesday said that eight passenger and more than a dozen cargo airlines have been forced to declare bankrupt in the last thirty years due to various reasons including uneven competition, high rate of aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges, high rate of jet fuel and customs-related complications.
Mofizur Rahman, also the managing director of Novoair, said this at the meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on civil aviation ministry.
The meeting was held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban with ruling Awami League MP RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury in the chair.
In the meeting, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) informed that four private airlines owe Tk 1,282 crore to the CAAB regarding various aeronautical and non-aeronautical fees and charges.
The four airlines are: now defunct Regent Airways, United Airways and GMG Airlines and Novoair.
Mofizur in a written statement told the parliamentary body that private airlines are in crisis of existence due to uneven competition with Biman.
"Private sector airlines cannot survive at all due to the government's subsidised operating policy of aircraft with various unfettered privileges. A solution to this unequal competition is urgently needed," he said.
The Novoair MD said that Biman has been fixing airfares at lower prices than the actual fare for a long time. As a result, private airlines are also forced to operate flights with low fares.
Therefore, he said, private airlines will not survive in any way even if Biman survives with huge government subsidies. In this case fixing actual airfare is essential.
About the high price of jet fuel, Mofizur said that 40-46 percent of the operating cost of airlines is spent on fuel. If the jet fuel is bought at a price 30-40 percent higher than the international market and forced to transport passengers at a low price, the private airlines will not survive in any way.
He said that the price of jet fuel must be aligned with the global market.
Mofizur said if the situation does not improve, it is certain that the existing private airlines will gradually close down.