No bailout for airlines in proposed budget

- A Monitor Desk Report 15 Jun, 2020 | 542 Views|-+
Dhaka: Stakeholders of the country’s aviation industry are frustrated with the proposed budget of BDT 3,688 for the civil aviation and tourism ministry for the fiscal year 2020-21 as there was no mention of a bailout despite the demands of the airline officials.

"We had placed various demands to the government for a bailout. But this budget did not address any of our demand," said Ashish Rai Choudhury, Chief Operating Officer, Regent Airways.

Aviation which suffered the worst due to the coronavirus outbreak is a major sector in the country. It involves millions of dollars of investment, generates plenty of jobs and earns a huge amount of foreign currencies.

However, this budget does not contain any specific proposal for the aviation industry, claimed Kamrul Islam, General Manager, Public Relations of the country’s largest private carrier US-Bangla Airlines.

On top of it, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed to increase supplementary duty on chartered flights from 25 per cent to 30 per cent in the budget.

This will significantly increase the cost of operating chartered aircraft and helicopter flights which people in groups as well as different organisations are choosing since March for emergency purposes such as to repatriate people stranded in different countries amid the suspension of scheduled flight operations due to the pandemic.

On the other hand, many countries in the world have stepped up to provide rescue packages for the aviation industry.

"But in the proposed budget, we did not see any such measure to rescue the industry while it grapples with strong headwinds and may drift further towards the verge of collapse without substantial financial support from the government," said Mofizur Rahman, Managing Director, NOVOAIR.

Bangladesh suspended schedule passenger flights to and from all countries, except China, from mid March, following the coronavirus pandemic, causing the sector to face severe losses.

While the government has already resumed domestic flight operations partly from June 1, international flight services will resume from June 16 on a limited scale.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts the country’s airline operators will incur USD 190 million or BDT 1,615 crore revenue losses in 2020 due to poor passenger volumes following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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