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Can Bangladesh aviation Industry revive?

Published : Sunday, 7 June, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 457
Anwar Shadat Jihan

Anwar Shadat Jihan

Anwar Shadat Jihan

An invisible element yet capable of shattering the balance of the whole world, a small virus keeping the 'conspiracy theorists' at work finding from where or how or for what it came about-the novel corona virus hit the travel, tourism and airlines industries the hardest among all other concerned. A great loss has incurred this year of 2020 for the airlines and aviation industry. Not too long ago the world saw hundreds of Boeing aircraft production being on halt. What does it imply at the customer ends that are none but world class airliners?

Meanwhile, Airbus A380 retired the biggest, safest and perhaps the cleanest in terms of environmental variables not too long ago. With or without the invisible virus, the aircraft industry is suffering, suffering in a time, in a decade when it was supposed to flourish in Asia surpassing Europe and America combined! But, as luck can have it the so-called new innovative 'Zoom' conference call supposedly now is equivalent to multiple airliners combined. Which business expert would have guessed that before this pandemic came and bulldozed the globe?

With problem, there is always an underlying solution-be it a huge global pandemic or some local communal issues. Let's switch the focus to the airlines industry, peoples' lives that depend on it, and how is the current scenario of this arena. When any major global even takes place, aviation industry will be fluctuating like no one can imagine and it will follow no equation, no valid projection, and neither any so-called strategic revival solution, it is the norm for aviation. For example, when the barbarous September 11 attack on 2001 hit the twin towers, no one in the aviation industry was liable for this inhumane act. However, if one were to take a closer look at the statistical scenario that ensued from that, it was massive laid-off of airlines/aircraft manufacturers' employees, airlines industry; airports all around the world saw security measures beefed up, struggled very badly. It was hard time for the industry people of all levels which range from a mechanic who pulls the baggage cargo from the aircraft to the CEO running an aircraft manufacturing plant.

Nineteen years later, the global travel scenario seemingly stepped up towards even more negative trend. When a car sits idle for too long time, the car doesn't start easily. It takes a jump-start to recharge the battery to make it drivable. The current situation in other parts of the world are perhaps a bit better given they have long-term trained people, strictly shackling regulations that aviation has to follow than that of the airliners in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is a very small country, but can it dream big! It sure can. Bangladesh currently has a Satellite roaming around the orbit being used for DTH services as of now. Without getting into criticism of how feasible was that decision as the invisible virus didn't exist then, let's open up to the readers that Aerospace is an umbrella, a very complicated one under which Aeronautics, airlines and all that fall-so in one way or another Airlines is connected with satellite.

Now, the national carrier of Bangladesh, Biman Bangladesh airlines is struggling to a level due to lack of passenger that they had to declare a new adaptation of 'Chartering' their fleet for family uses at a cost of 3-5 lacks BDT inside the country. How many countries have disconnected their air-travels with Bangladesh? Or was it Bangladesh who suspended the air-travel while the big brothers (Sikder brothers) showed a stunt by absconding amid criminal charges pending against them via their own air-ambulance putting the Department of Security Service Division, Ministry of Home Affairs and the foreign ministry into a huge unavoidable question? The operating cost of a Dash-10 which in recent days crashed quite so often (Remember the crash at Myanmar) can be shown by Biman to attract the people to charter and roam around for a small family vacation, but it will not in the long run help the national carrier.

And Biman practically controls all other private airlines in Bangladesh indirectly under the umbrella of CAAB who as of now couldn't provide any plan whatsoever, not even how they plan to jump-start the engine of these newly purchased birds which were supposed to make Bangladesh's aviation touch a new horizon.

While world class airlines like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar are cutting staffs due to the unfathomable reality the world is facing, Biman, US Bangla, Novo-air or any airlines in Bangladesh will be able to avoid the absolute certainty-a catastrophic downfall. The downfall will become even more complicated if stakeholders start taking things seriously instead of dreaming of 'Charter Flight' from Dhaka-Chittagong at a cost of 3 Lack! Aviation has many wings, and the staffs that will lose their livelihoods won't be able to go on the road to protest like the savior of Bangladesh-The RMG sectors. Believe it or not, in Bangladesh, a Bangladeshi Aeronautical mechanic gets paid only 12-15 thousands BDT while with the same quality of him/her, a foreigner, just for being foreigner gets paid 2-4 lacks BDT, this is a true life situation here. When the mechanics will loss this small chunk of his earning, how will he/she survive? Did the stakeholder consider this scenario? It can be assumed they didn't as till today I hear many GMG airlines workers didn't get their earning while GMG went bankrupt, which will be the future of some others very rapidly without even giving the time to think.

The year 2019 has been great for the aviation in terms of removing the crooked termites from the management who caused such deterioration from which the fluctuation isn't comparable to any graph of any other part of the world. With new management, came new hope, and hope is a good thing. But only hoping without executing reasonable, responsible action that makes sense to experts around the world who can provide suggestion, the abyss the industry is heading towards is very deep. There are other markets of the aviation industry the stakeholders can look into now. For example, Drone Industry. With supervision of CAAB, proper licensing many businesses can start importing or even start building drones inside the country as it is not to complicated which can be used for many purposes and where those people who will lose job from airlines can go with little training to keep their life going.

When one door closes, numerous others open! It is now time, high time to start prioritizing, executing, and optimizing realistic solution that will keep the dream of the new horizon of Bangladesh's aviation alive. The realistic solution may include by starting to gradually start regional operation at loss for the time being instead of dreaming meaningless family trip so that the battery of the dead car can jump-start in lieu of being permanently dead.

Start mobilizing employees of all airlines under a single umbrella and provide them with update on the plan the super-head CAAB is planning on their head as many started complaining about not being able to fulfill their minimum needs! The harder the challenge, the tougher the work, but the sweetest is the result. Let our aviation experts understand and accept the lack of knowledge, practical knowledge to run this industry and seek technical, managerial and other aids necessary to keep this industry and dream alive.  

The writer is an Aerospace Engineering Consultant

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