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Shahjalal airport grapples with 12 abandoned aircraft

Plans auction to realise dues

Published : 04 Feb 2024 11:40 PM

Shahjalal airport is grappling with a long-standing issue of the 12 aircraft lying abandoned for over a decade, accumulating huge amount of dues which they have to pay to the airport authorities as per law.  

However, the airport authorities claim that they have made a significant progress in the paper work and they will soon be able to call auction for the abandoned aircraft after completion of the paper work.  

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) Authority has repeatedly urged the airlines concerned to either remove these aircraft or initiate repairs and resume operations. But all pleas have fallen on deaf ear, exacerbating the financial burden on the airport.

HSIA Executive Director Md. Kamrul Islam told Bangladesh Post that, “Abandoned aircraft is a big issue for any airport of the world. We have repeatedly asked the airlines to take away their carriers by paying the dues. As they are failing to comply with our rules, we are now taking measures as per the law.” 

“Before calling auction for these aircrafts, there are a good number of legal paper works which includes deregistration of these aircrafts, cancelling their airworthiness, preparing seize list, sending letters to the respective airliners. After completing all these legal paper work as per an attorney direction, we will send letter to the central bank for final move. Based on the Bangladesh Bank approval, we will call auction for these aircrafts,” he added. 

When asked how much time it will take to complete the total procedure, he said it will depend on the paper works. 

It is to be noted, United Airways tops the list with eight abandoned planes, while Regent Airways, GMG Airlines, and Aviana Airlines each have one stranded aircraft. The total outstanding parking charges and surcharges for these neglected planes amount to near Tk1,000 crore.

Notably, GMG Airlines holds the dubious distinction of having the highest arrears, with more than Tk 360 crore owed to the airport. The airline halted both international and domestic flights in 2012, and since then, its aircraft have remained grounded. However, CAAB officials have hinted that the amount can be even bigger including surcharges. 

Despite efforts by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) to address the issue through an auction, the airliners seem reluctant to take effective measures. It was previously decided that if the desired price is not achieved in the final auction, the aircraft will be sold on a per kilogram basis.

CAAB information shows that the registration of the abandoned aircraft owned by GMG Airlines has already been canceled. Subsequent notices have been issued to quicken removal of these abanded planes from the airport premises.

The prolonged presence of these abandoned aircraft poses not only financial challenges but also concerns regarding airport operations and space utilisation. The local aviation community awaits further developments, hoping for an immediate resolution to the matter for easing the economic strain on the HSIA. 

Meanwhile, when asked about the measures of United Airways, its new chairman of the board of directors, Kazi Wahidul Alam told Bangladesh Post, “We did not get any letter from the airport authorities. We asked the authorities to allow us to sell them after disposing. A few foreign organisations showed interest in this regard. But as they did not allow us, we cannot do anything.”  

To know more details about the legal paper work, this correspondent tried to contact the CAAB chairman, he did not received the phone call.