The process to lease aircraft by Biman Bangladesh Airlines for smooth flight operation on regular routes during the Hajj season hangs in the balance, according to a senior official.
The Biman passengers who have already booked tickets to go to Middle East countries would be affected in the event of unavailability of the aircraft, he said.
However, the Biman authority is still trying to lease the aircraft and will continue to do so until June 30, said the Biman official.
On the other hand, Biman is in trouble with the two aircraft brought from the Fly Global of Malaysia under wet lease, he said wishing not to be named.
Most of the time, either one of the two remains grounded due to pilot and crew shortage, sources said.
Earlier, it was apprehended that the regular flight operations of Biman may be disrupted due to failure to lease aircraft for the Hajj season in time.
So, Biman took an initial decision to suspend flight operation on four international routes during the Hajj season.
These four routes connect Dhaka with Kuwait, Doha, Dammam and Riyadh.
The Biman has now been trying to negotiate with the Qatar Airways to carry the passengers who have already bought tickets to various destinations in the Middle East, another Biman official said, wishing not to be named.
As part of the leasing process, a Biman team is going to China for preliminary negotiation and see the condition of the aircraft, Boeing 737, to be leased, he said.
Earlier, Biman authority said they need two aircraft with a minimum capacity of 300 seats.
But Boeing 737 has a capacity of 162 seats.
If the visit is successful, another team will go to China to bring the aircraft, said the Biman official.
A few days ago, a team visited Egypt for the same purpose, but still there is no outcome, Biman sources said.
Contacted, Biman General Manager (PR) Shakil Meraj told the FE that they are still hopeful of getting leased aircraft before the start of the Hajj season.
"We are still trying to lease aircraft for the upcoming Hajj season. And we are hopeful of leasing them in time," he said.
Biman authority earlier dismissed the allegation of failure to lease the aircraft for smooth flight operation on regular international routes during the Hajj season.
It then announced that it was going to lease two aircraft for three months within the scheduled time, that is before July 14.
There is extensive criticism that the failure to lease aircraft during Hajj season in time has become commonplace.
The national flag carrier tried to bring two Boeing 777-300s along with crew under short-term wet lease from the Fly Global of Malaysia in February this year, but it finally leased one Boeing 777-300 and one Boeing 777-200, sources said.
This year, 127,198 pilgrims will perform Hajj under the management of the government and private Hajj agencies.
Of them, Biman will carry 63,599 pilgrims.
As per the schedule of Biman, it will operate a total of 155 flights to Jeddah and Medinah.
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