Debt-ridden Regent Airways in doldrums

Chowdhury Akbor Hossain
Published : 09:00, Sep 12, 2018 | Updated : 09:00, Sep 12, 2018

Debt-ridden Regent Airways in doldrumsBaffling with financial crisis, private airline Regent Airways is now looking for investment as it owes more than Tk 1.28 billion to the aviation regulator and the state coffer.
Incorporated as HG Aviation Ltd, Regent is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chattogram-based Habib Group which has a diverse business portfolio.
It began commercial flight operations in 2010 and its fleet has eight aircraft— two Bombardier Dash 8-Q300s, two Boeing 737-700s and four 737-800s.
The airline owes in Tk 1.15 billion to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).
“The issued was discussed in the recent monthly coordination meeting. It has been decided that they will be notified every three months over the arrears and if necessary, legal procedures will be opened,” a CAAB official, asking not to be named, told Bangla Tribune.
The airline has also not paid Tk 139.83 million in VAT from sales of ticket. In June this year, the National Board of Revenue froze its bank accounts.
It also owes another Tk 95.53 million to the Customs, Excise and VAT in Chattogram.
“Regent has not cleared VAT from sales of ticket. We have initiated measures to recover them,” Commissioner Syed Golam Kibria in the port city told Bangla Tribune.
Regent Airways said they have started to clear the dues of NBR.
“The arrears with CAAB will be also cleared. But the interest has surpassed the principle amount. We have pleaded to the CAAB to waive the interest. We will pay the dues as soon as the issue is resolved,” Chief Operations Officer (COO) Ashish Roy Chowdhury told Bangla Tribune.
According to industry insiders, Regent Airways is finding it tough to pay its more than 800 work force. It has not even recruited pilots to replace the ones who quit recently.
They say that Habib Group is seeking new investments to fire up the ailing airline.
The airline used to operate domestic flights to Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Jashore and Syedpur while its international flights to Kolkata, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Dammam, Doha and Muscat.
However, it has suspended flights to Jashore, Syedpur, Kathmandu and Dammam recently.
“It’s tough for the local airlines now to do business as fuel cost is high compared to the international price. Besides that, the CAAB charges high for landing and parking. The local aviation industry will not be able to operate unless these issues are resolved,” Regent Airways COO Chowdhury told Bangla Tribune.