Closed GMG affects other airlines

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Authorities say flight frequencies held by the closed GMG Airlines cannot be allotted to other private operators.




Internaional flight frequencies blocked by the GMG, that was closed three years ago, have been causing losses to other operating private airlines.

Despite preparations to fly on international routes, GMG Airlines could not begin operations, thus blocking the flight frequencies allotted to it.

Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) says it is unable to allot the frequencies to other private airlines because of an ongoing legal battle..

According to the last allotment by CAAB on May 20, 2014, the GMG was given 81 frequencies for 10 routes.

That gave the GMG that lost its licence in 2012 the sanction to operate 81 flights on 10 international routes per week.

The allotment list showed the CAAB redistributed flight frequencies to five airlines, including the flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines, in line with agreements with 16 countries.

Bangladesh has got 61 flight frequencies according to the agreement with India.

Of them, Biman got 11 and United Airways 15.

Regent Airways applied for 14 frequencies but got seven, while Novo Air, a new airlines that got licence recently, did not get any after applying for 10.

CAAB said it could not consider the applications of Regent Airways and Novo Air because of 21 flights to India.

Similarly, the GMG was allotted three flight frequencies to Singapore, five to Thailand, seven to Malaysia, 21 to the United Arab Emirates, three to Qatar, seven to Oman, seven to Saudi Arabia, three to Bahrain and four to China.

Novo Air applied for 10 flight frequencies to Thailand but got five, while Regent Airways got none, though it had applied for seven to Oman.

Novo Air, that got permission to operate international flights around a year ago, is yet to fly international routes.

Mafizur Rahman, the Novo Air Managing Director, blamed the allotment of flight frequencies to the GMG.

“Our primary plan was to operate domestic flights. We were getting prepared in line with that plan.

“But when we had applied for flights to India, CAAB said it could not give us any frequency as they had been allotted to the GMG,” he said.

Another top private airline official, seeking anonymity, said, “There is no existence of an airline named GMG.”

“It wants to sell its frequencies to other airlines,” he said.

“As a result, the matter got stuck due to a case,” he said, adding that the Indian airlines were profiting by taking advantage of this opportunity.

GMG Airlines started operating international flights in 2004 after its launch in 1998.

In 2009, Beximco Group bought a significant number of the airline shares.

CAAB cancelled the GMG’s licence in 2012, as it had failed to clear dues amounting to Tk 2 billion.

The then GMG managing director Shahab Sattar filed a case in this connection with Dhaka’s Joint District Judge’s Court.

The High Court is currently hearing the case against the secretary to the civil aviation and tourism ministry.

The case details say GMG temporarily suspended operations to cope with fuel price hike and competition, and that the company will resume operation with a new plan.

It pleaded with the court to direct the authorities to not cancel the allotted frequencies in the intervening period.

CAAB Director (flight operations and flight safety) S M Nazmul Anam said, “The frequencies allotted to the GMG cannot be distributed to others, as a GMG petition is being heard in the High Court. The matter would move after the disposal of the case.”

There had been a rumour that the GMG had planned to raise money from the share market.

No one, including the GMG chairman and the managing director, could be reached for comments. Most of its top officials are now working in other airlines.