Mofizur Rahman, MD, NOVOAIR speaking to the industry stakeholders and concerned government officials at the video conference organised by PATA BD Chapter held to discuss post COVID-19 recovery measures
Dhaka: The private carriers of Bangladesh were knee-deep in crisis anyway prior to the coronavirus pandemic. And now the COVID-19 outbreak has brought the airlines to the verge of extinction.
The government has rolled out a rescue package of BDT 30 thousand crore for the service sector. However, since the service sector includes almost all the industries of the country, it is doubtful whether the airlines will get to have a sufficient piece of the stimulus package.
Mofizur Rahman, Managing Director of NOVOAIR said this said this on April 17 during the second session of the weeklong video conference titled PATA Talk During Lockdown organised by Pacific Asia Travel Association Bangladesh Chapter.
"The airline industry stands on a structural deformity. Because from the policy level the industry is not getting the support or opportunity to grow over time," said Rahman.
"We need to bear the excessive cost of fuel, tax on import of parts and civil aviation charges. Just like we burn cash while in operation, we do so in ground too. Because the cost of our human resource in the country is 25-30 per cent, higher than the world average," he added.
Therefore, Rahman expressed his uncertainty on how long the airlines will be able to bear this human resource expense during this pandemic. On top of it, loan, lease and other payments only add to the burden, he sighed.
For recovery, he referred to several initiatives the governments worldwide are taking to save the airline industry and urged the government of Bangladesh to do the same.
"To recover in the post pandemic period, this stimulus package which the governmnet has announced will not be sufficient," Rahman claimed.
"We need to address the particular areas of crisis in the airline industry and urge the government to roll out short, mid and long term loans for the carriers separately to help them sustain," he further urged.
If the airlines go bankrupt, the economy will have to endure a hard blow since air connectivity plays a silent yet key role in the development of the country. The government must not let that happen, Rahman concluded.
The purpose of the video conference to be held every day till April 22 is to come up with findings through discussion between the industry stakeholders and concerned government officials which will be later compiled and proposed as recommendations to the ministry to overcome the unfortunate crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.