Published:  02:27 AM, 21 November 2020

Six airlines under ACC scanner

Tk 4000cr unpaid for airport use

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has started searching the reasons behind non-recovery of  the government money amounting at Tk 4000 crore from six airlines. Civil Aviation Authorities of Bangladesh (CAAB) cannot realize the money even after creating pressures several times. Finally, the ACC has asked the authorities concerned what steps have been taken up so far to realize the money.Air-Vice Marshal Mofidur Rahman, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority said, "The ACC can look into any negligence or corruption from our side. There are different types of charges for using airports.

The charges have to be paid to the regulatory body during the use of airports. We owe the most to Biman Bangladesh Airlines. Now, they have started paying. On the other hand, US-Bangla and Novo-Air are paying regularly. United Airlines has ready been closed. But, we confiscated their aircrafts. The money will be adjusted by selling those aircrafts.

We have owes to GMG airlines, while Regent Airlines has started paying. We are working hard to recover the arrears. However, ACC's interference did not make us panic stricken."ACC officials said, the government owes Tk 3,092,66,70,452 to Biman Bangladesh Airlines. The arrears to the closed United Airways is over Tk 203 crore. GMG Airlines was shut down even before United Airlines.

The government owes to the company at Tk 368,17,28,048. Regent Airlines is in arrears of more than Tk 245 crore. US-Bangla Airlines, which has been continuously expanding its business, is also on the backlog. The company owes Tk 44,95,18,852. Novo-Air is yet to pay Tk 98,35,000. ACC Director Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya said, "There should be transparency in any financial transaction. Huge amount of money is not being realized so far. A letter has been sent to find out the reasons behind the arrears of the government."

"What types of steps were taken by the money rescuer team, ACC should know it," he added.The Civil Aviation Authority deposits a huge amount of money in the government treasury every year. This regulatory body is located right next to Chittagong Port.

According to the concerned authorities, the main income of the civil aviation is the money received from various airlines for aeronautical and non-aeronautical purposes. With the money received from this source, the Civil Aviation Authority carries out development, renovation and maintenance of all airports in addition to meeting its own revenue expenditure. CAAB's development activities are being hampered due to arrears to domestic airlines.

Audit objections are being raised every year from the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General due to non-payment of the arrears. The Civil Aviation Authority cannot give any proper answer of this question to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts of the National Assembly. Under Civil Aviation law, this authority is an institution exempt from Income Tax. But, the National Board of Revenue is imposing Income Tax on CAAB by adding a new section to their law.

For this reason, Civil Aviation has been writing letters regularly to the Biman Bangladesh Airlines seeking payment of the arrears.Officials of the Civil Aviation Authority said that, the organization had a owe more than Tk 2,333 crore to the Biman Bangladesh Airlines in 2017. In the last few years, the arrears have almost doubled.

Seeking anonymity, an official of Biman Bangladesh Airlines said, "Padma Oil supplied fuel worth Tk 575 crore to Biman Bangladesh Airlines from July to August. Biman has paid only Tk 487 crore. Due to coronavirus pandemic globally, airlines were forced to reduce flight frequencies on international and domestic routes to prevent spread of the virus.

For a long time, flights on all routes except London or Manchester had remained suspended. Due to the reasons, the revenue earning of the airlines has come down to zero. The airlines were also forced to refund unused ticket prices. The cash flow of the airlines has gone into a fragile state."

United Airways suspended flight operations without any announcement in February 2016. The airline started its flight operations on July 10 in 2007 after receiving CAAB approval in 2005. According to the concerned people, 12 abandoned planes of different airlines have been lying in front of the export cargo village of Hazrat Shahjalal Airport for a long time.

These aircraft occupy a large part of the airport Cargo Village apron. The abandoned planes included eight United Airways and one GMG airlines, two Regent Airways and one Aviana Airlines. The planes have remained parked in the airport runway area for several years without paying any charges.Recently, US-Bangla Airlines has been continuously expanding its flights. New aircrafts are being added to its fleet.

Kamrul Islam, General Manager of US-Bangla Airlines said, "We have made a proposal to reduce various charges for using airports. The government has also taken a policy decision to reduce these charges. We will pay the arrears after we get the final decision. "Moreover, the coronavirus has caused a collapse in the airline business worldwide. We are not out of it either. We will repay all the debts as soon as the situation returns to normal."

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