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MENAFN - Arab News - 16/03/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Bangladesh expatriates have called on their government to improve the services of the country's crisis-hit national carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, in Saudi Arabia.

Arab News spoke to a number of Bangladeshi nationals who accused the airline of failing to stick to flights times. They also want flights during the day instead of at midnight or the early hours of the morning.

Abdullah Shahabuddin from the city of Rajshahi said that he loves to travel with his country's national carrier but says flights are often delayed for hours at the airports in Jeddah and Chittagong.

Jasim Mohammed, another Bangladesh expatriate hailing from Dhaka City, said that expansion work at Dhaka airport is causing problems for passengers.

Anwar Hussain Majumdar from Chittagong, claimed that the poor services of the national carrier have seen the "strong" emergence of other private airlines in Saudi Arabia.

Noor Mian from Noakhali said that many Bangladesh pilgrims and other passengers found it unsuitable to travel at 4 a.m.

Biman operates 14 flights a week from Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh. The Kingdom is the prime market for the carrier because it is home to the largest Bangladesh expatriate community.

In the past, several Jeddah-bound passengers who were stranded at Chittagong airport in Bangladesh, ransacked the Biman office. This prompted Bangladesh parliamentarians to intervene and question Biman's operations to Saudi Arabia.

Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal, a member of parliament from Chittagong and a member of the parliamentary standing committee on civil aviation and tourism, told Arab News over the phone that Biman has neglected Bangladesh expatriates. He said the airline should prioritize the Jeddah route and lease wider aircraft to cater to the needs of Bangladesh expatriates.

He said the parliamentary committee has discovered widespread corruption in Biman that has resulted in the company incurring huge financial losses. He said he is working hard to reform Biman.

He said the parliamentary committee found irregularities in the recruitment of general sales agents (GSA) in Jeddah and Oman.

The parliamentarian said that an audit report found that Biman has incurred losses of 6.4 billion Taka ( 81.4 million) over the last five years by operating six routes in Gulf countries that include the Jeddah-Dhaka and Riyadh-Dhaka routes.

Badal said the parliamentary standing committee last year directed Biman to cancel the GSA agreement with the existing agents, but the directive has not yet been executed. He alleged that Biman initiated steps to recruit two sales agents in Saudi Arabia but lobbying by vested interests has seen the airline continue with the current agents.

Ashraf Ali, Biman sales manager for the Western Region, told Arab News that the airline will soon issue tenders for the recruitment of agents. He said senior officials from Biman headquarters visited Saudi Arabia recently to finalize the deal.

He said that the airline has acquired Boeing 777 and DC10 aircraft to help solve the problems of passengers.


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