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Thousands of crores dues from 31 airlines

Civil aviation authorities set to take legal actions against domestic carriers

Over two dozen domestic and international airline operators owe the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) a large sum of money, even though some of the airlines have closed operations in the country over the past many years.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recently raised questions over why CAAB had failed to realise the dues, amounting to over Tk5,000 crore, from six domestic and 25 foreign airlines for over 30 years.

CAAB is set to take legal action against the domestic airlines after repeatedly issuing warnings in previous years, while multiple letters have been sent to the foreign airlines through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Among the six domestic airline operators, only the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines and the private airlines US Bangla and Novoair are currently operating regular flights. Only two out of the 25 foreign airlines – Ethiopian Airlines and Thai Airways – are operating flights to and from Bangladesh.

According to CAAB, domestic airlines are in arrears for an estimated Tk5,308.40 crore and international airlines for Tk172.81 crore as of March this year. The figures include VAT, income tax and surcharge.

The dues have accumulated over 35 years, from 1986, and have been consistently increasing by 6% per month.

ACC: What steps have CAAB taken?

CAAB, in its latest annual report on the arrears of airways, said it was continuing to send letters to various domestic airlines regarding arrears. No information was received from the department concerned regarding the collection of dues from foreign airlines.

Subsequently, the ACC sent a letter to CAAB asking why it was in arrears, and whether irregularities and negligence of officials were a factor in the failure to collect dues.

The commission also asked what steps were being taken to identify defaulters and recover the arrears.

CAAB sources said they had received the ACC’s letter, but were yet…

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