United Airways in talks with govt to resume operation

Chowdhury Akbor Hossain
Published : 07:45, Aug 08, 2018 | Updated : 07:45, Aug 08, 2018

A United Airways Bombardier Dash 8–100 PHOTO/WikipediaTwo years after shutting down operations calling a fund crisis, United Airways have opened talks with the authorities to resume flights.
Launched in 2007, it operated several domestic and a few international routes before suspending flights indefinitely in 2016 due to insufficient aircraft and a financial crunch.
On Tuesday (Aug 7), the private airline had a meeting at the civil aviation ministry with government representatives, including Minister Shahjahan Kamal, Secretary Md Mahibul Haque and Civil Aviation Authority Chairman M Naim Hassan.
“We are trying to resume operations as soon as possible ... they (authorities) have several queries. We will submit a detailed plan in line with the ministry’s requirement,” said United Airways Chairman Tasbirul Ahmed Choudhury.
People familiar with the matter said that United has pleaded to be exempted from clearing the nearly Tk 1.96 billion dues with the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).
The airline has dues with several airports in India, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, which had written to CAAB and the ministry over the issue. The government representatives sought United’s explanation over the issue, according to them.
United informed the meeting that it wants to resume flight operations with six aircrafts, they added.
Sources in the CAAB said that the regulator’s board has discussed the matter of resuming United’s flight operations during its last four meetings, when they had asked the airline to file a plan.
United, however, did not submit a detailed plan to the CAAB, rather an overview, according to them.
Cleared by the CAAB in 2005, United which launched flight operations two years later have at least 11 broken aircraft grounded at airports in home and abroad.
The CAAB has asked United several times to remove its planes occupying parking spaces in the country’s airports, which failed to evoke any response.
Last month, an Indian airport removed one of its aircraft occupying a bay for nearly three years.
United Airways owe the Raipur Swami Vivekananda airport in Indian state of Chhattisgarh more than six million rupees in parking fees.
But despite several communications, they did not pay it or took efforts to remove the plane, the airport’s manager Rakesh Sahay told Bangla Tribune.
Listed as a Z-category company with the Dhaka Stock Exchange, United Airways authorised capital is Tk 11 billion and paid up capital Tk 8.28 billion.
In 2010, it floated 10 million shares to raise Tk 1 billion through an initial public offering (IPO).
The company’s sponsor directors hold 4.16 percent stake in the company with institutional investors and foreign investors 13.23 percent and 12.18 percent respectively.
The remaining 70.43 percent shares are being held by general investors.