Thursday, May 23, 2019 | ePaper

Biman plans expansion

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Kazi Zahidul Hasan  :
Biman Bangladesh Airlines has taken an aggressive expansion plan in a bid to make its operation profitable.
At the same time, it has also undertaken several cost reducing measures to minimize its operating expenses, which increased by 14 per cent in the last fiscal year.
The national flag carrier suffered Tk 201 crore net loss in the last fiscal year (2017-18) owing to higher operating costs and stiff competition with its domestic and international peers.
"As part of the aggressive expansion plan, Biman is increasing its fleet with inclusion   
of latest version aircrafts and expanding destinations. This move will help it reduce operational costs and improve efficiency," Shakil Meraj, General Manager (Public Relations) of Biman Bangladesh Airlines told The New Nation on Wednesday.
He said, four aircrafts will join Biman's fleet by this year. Of them, two Boeing 737 aircrafts will be taken on long-term lease and it will get delivery of two ultra-modern 787-8 Dreamliners from the US Boeing Company. By this time, flight network will also be expanded to Guangju, Madina, Delhi/Colombo and second destination in the UK. "Such initiatives are expected to increase number of passengers as well as income for Biman," he added.
When asked, Shakil Meraj said, the national flag carrier suffered a big loss in last fiscal year despite a double-digit growth in passengers. It happened mainly due to the significant rise in its operating cost, caused by soaring fuel prices and currency fluctuation.  
Biman's operating expenses reached Tk 4,750 crore during the last fiscal year, while it was Tk 4,161 crore in the fiscal year 2016-17, according to an official figure.
"Fuel accounts for 50 per cent of Biman's operating cost and the airline's fuel cost had to spend Tk 300 crore more to buy fuel during the last fiscal year," he added.
Biman's fuel expenses jumped 25 per cent on year-on-year to Tk 1,501 crore in the last fiscal year as compared to Tk 1,201 in fiscal 2016-17, show an official figure.
The figure also shows that currency fluctuation cost Biman Tk 93 crore loss in the last fiscal.
 "To rationalize the fuel cost, the authorities of Biman have already engaged talks with the state oil agencies. Both sides had several meetings to fix a logical price of jet fuel. Supply of jet fuel in logical price will help reduce Biman's operating cost significantly," hoped Shakil Meraj.
He mentioned that Biman planned to increase yield of per seat to make additional income. Besides, additional income is expected to come from ground and cargo handling. "The airline expects return to profit in this fiscal year taking advantage of the aggressive expansion plan, operational efficiency and additional income," said Shakil Meraj.
The national flag carrier had flown 26.11 lakh passengers (international, domestic and hajj) during the financial year 2017-18 compared with 23.51 lakh during the previous year.
During the 2017-18 financial year, Biman recoded 11 per cent passenger growth against the enhanced capacity of 5.0 per cent.
However, passengers yield has gone down by 7.0 per cent during the period amid stiff competition from domestic airlines and competition with the fifth freedom fare of the middle-east carriers.
During the 2017-18 financial year, Biman earned Tk 3,330 as passenger revenue, Tk 245 crore as cargo revenue and earned Tk 54 crore from excess baggage and Tk 1,157 from others. Non-transport revenue increased by 30 per cent and stood at Tk 1,126.77 crore.   

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