Thursday March 22, 2018 09:35 PM

Vacant seats on Hajj flights worry Biman

Vacant seats on Hajj flights worry Biman
Tribune File Photo

The national flag carrier keeps operating flights amid such situation that hits its revenues hard

Biman Bangladesh Airlines runs a low load factor as agencies procrastinate over sending an optimum number of Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

According to sources, the national flag carrier keeps operating flights amid such situation that hits its revenues hard.

As of on Wednesday, Biman ran seven flights with not as many Hajj pilgrims as expected to fill its seats.

As the load factor is on the downswing, so is its revenues, said a Biman official.

Shakil Meraj, general manager (PR) and spokesperson of Biman, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Though Boeing 777 300 ER has a capacity of 419 seats, most flights are leaving Dhaka with a less number of devout pilgrims.”

The airliner sees at least 100 seats vacant on each flight, leading to a huge revenue loss for the national flag carrier.

As of on Wednesday, Biman transported 33,310 pilgrims while Saudi Arabian Airlines transpoted 35,954.

This year, a total 127,198 pilgrims are set to perform Hajj.

Meanwhile, Biman has sought eight more slots from Saudi Arabian civil aviation authority. Earlier, it got 14 additional sots.

Sources said a Boeing 777 200 ER aircraft would be taken on lease and added to the Biman fleet on Sunday to facilitate transportation of the pilgrims.

A total of 25 slots allocated to Hajj flights have been cancelled as pilgrims failed to board on account of visa complications.

Of the slots, Biman cancelled 21 flights while Saudi Arabian Airlines four.

The cancelled flights with a total of 11,000 seats incurred a loss of Tk44 crore in revenue.

In a bid to make more aircraft available, Biman rescheduled its regular flights reducing flight frequencies on Dhaka-London, Dhaka-Muscat, Dhaka-Dubai, Dhaka-Abudhabi, Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur routes. It cancelled all Dhaka-Doha flights till August 26.

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