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     Volume 6 Issue 43 | November 9, 2007 |

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Views from the Bottom

Airlines that Remain Grounded most of the Time
Shahnoor Wahid

Biman Bangladesh…Bangladesh Biman…Biman Bangladesh Airlines…Biman Bangkladesh Airlines Ltd… whatever you call this unique (?) airlines…however you want to forget the loooong wait for the flights to take off…or however you want to forget the sufferings you endured in those loooong flights…those not so long flights… or even those short flights…the terrible cramps you had in your legs or the posterior (ahem)…the terrible English announcements by the cabin crew…the not-so-pleasant-services by them.…the terrifying hovering over foreign airports for not getting landing permission… you cannot forget them. After every such 'journey' by Biman you hallucinate for weeks…you have strange delusions and nightmares for months together. Your anger and your angst only multiples when you reach home minus the most important suitcase, thanks to Biman loaders. They are deft in unloading your luggage by cutting open the bottom of your suitcase.

At one point the slogan of Biman in Bangla language was: “Chhoto hoey aschey prithibi”, meaning your world is getting smaller. With closing down of some very important destinations, the authorities actually proved that Biman's world was getting smaller indeed. At present Biman's slogan is, “Your home in the air.” But the home most of the times remains grounded on earth, either in Bangladesh or in some unknown airport hangers for repair.

Readers, please visit Biman's website (http://www.bimanair.com/ontheground/onthe_ground_info_bangladesh.asp) and you will find this interesting line: White strok flying across the red sun. It seems no one bothered to check the spelling and decided to leave it for the readers to understand the meaning. Secondly, does Biman aircraft fly across a red sun all the time? What about morning flights when it reaches the destination before the sun turns red? Or what about the night flights when the red sun remains conspicuously absent. Talking about strok…I mean stork…here is an interesting anecdote. Many years ago a renowned sculptor of the country created a beautiful sculpture of a group of storks right in front of the Biman office at Motijheel. The work was a delight for the eyes of the beholders. But viewers were in for a shock only some months later. Some “brilliant” Biman bosses thought the storks imparted the idea that Biman was nosediving, as some of the storks were looking at the ground. Now, any idiot would know that storks look for fish in shallow waters all the time. They have no time to look upward at anything flying by. But the brilliant Biman bosses made the sculptor change the design as per their diktat. So, today, if you happen to pass by Biman office at Motijheel, you will notice to your utter shock, all the storks standing close to one another and stretching their neck skywards. The sculpture is grotesque and devoid of any aesthetics.

Airlines that were born years after Biman are now expanding by adding new aircraft to their fleet. They are earning appreciation from their clients by offering best of services and maintaining flawless flight schedule. On the other hand, a number of international airports have issued warnings to Biman of not giving it any slot for landing unless and until it maintained the international flight schedule. Some airport authorities have even warned of imposing fines on Biman for its erratic behaviour! Readers, imagine, it is no other airlines but Biman that upsets the schedule of other airlines! It is Biman that gets the warning and not other airlines of the region! What more is ahead!!

You go to Biman head office today and you will notice hundreds of “staff” loitering in the corridors and dozens of officials, engineers and pilots cooling off in aircooled rooms. What are they doing there? Aren't they supposed to be up in the clouds flying some aircraft? Does Biman authorities earn the money they spend every month? They don't. It's our money they spend so blatantly. To be candid, we don't like it.


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