Bangladesh Airline Pilots' Association rejected a salary assessment by the authorities of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, saying Biman pilots get less benefits than aviators of other national carriers in the world.
Referring to an article titled "Pilot paradox: Biman not on top, but salaries are" published on 2 January by The Business Standard, the association in a letter to the English daily said the entry level salary of a pilot is Tk1.6 lakh while Biman's authority put it at Tk2.32 lakh.
The association also claims that the salary of the most-experienced captain is Tk8.61 lakh, not Tk16 lakh suggested by Biman.
Salaries of pilots having around 10 years' service experience are between Tk3 lakh and Tk4 lakh, but Biman authorities calculated Tk6 lakh to Tk8 lakh.
The salary amounts cited by the association are without tax and other allowances while Biman authorities' figures were inclusive of those.
Justifying their salaries, the association said, "If you think safety is costly, try an accident."
It said pilots flying similar aircraft in different airlines were getting far higher wages than Biman pilots. That is why it is difficult to get foreign pilots when Biman falls short of local pilots. Biman has to pay huge salaries per month to expatriate pilots.
"The amount given to them is incomparably higher than that of local pilots."
Referring to Air India, the pilot's association said junior pilots were receiving Tk59,000, but flying hour allowance of Tk2,550 per hour for 85 hours increased the monthly pay to Tk2.16 lakh. In case of a captain, the basic salary is Tk1.27 lakh, with a flying allowance of Tk7,650 per hour for 85 hours a month; the total pay comes to Tk7.77 lakh.
Comparing Air India with Biman makes no sense because the Indian airline was in a bad economic condition much before the pandemic.
"Still, the salary structure of its pilots is better than ours'," the association said in the letter.
Biman's assessment report shows that salaries of Air India range between Tk3.40 lakh and Tk10.20 lakh in the pre-pandemic period.
Amid the pandemic when the number of flights were cut for flight restrictions across the country, pilots of Air India took a pay cut and currently the lowest salary is fixed at Tk59,500 and the highest at Tk1.27 lakh.
In addition, Air India pilots are given Tk2,550 to Tk7,650 per flying hour.
Biman's pilots get a minimum of Tk1.53 lakh and a maximum of Tk5 lakh after a salary reduction implemented to tide over the economic shock of Covid-19.
Opposing salary cuts during the pandemic, the pilot's association said, "While many airlines are reducing the number of destinations, Biman is expanding its wings to new arenas and increasing routes."
In February last year, the chief executive officer of Biman announced a profit of Tk206 crore and in March the chairman declared that Biman was doing well despite the pandemic, reads the letter. The stimulus support of Tk 1,000 crore was mainly meant to pay installments against the purchases of planes, according to the letter.
When contacted, Biman's Managing Director Md Mokabbir Hossain said the company incurred a loss of Tk81 crore in the fiscal year 2019-20.
During the pandemic, the company made a loss of Tk1,718 crore that could be earned if the planes could fly with its pre-pandemic passenger load, he said.