Biman Bangladesh Airlines in a rejoinder on November 8 contradicted some information of a report headlined "Undisclosed luggage bogs Biman down" published in The Daily Star on November 5.
The rejoinder said as to information stated in paragraph eight of the report about the "guessing" of a pilot "It is to be noted that one of the captains of Boeing-777ER aircraft guessed that there might" have been some hidden weight. He quantified the figure to 5,000kg, as an example.
It also said as per the system prevailing in the nd that the personal effects business is a door-to-door service business. The cargo agents collect the shipments from different addresses of shippers in UK using their own/hired transports, put in proper package, forward them to Bangladesh, clear it from customs & en-reach to the destination in Bangladesh. The agents offer the total rate to the shippers which include all the above service charges Biman's freight charge. Therefore, it is not marking up of the freight charges but addition of some service charges," the rejoinder said.
It also said the rate mentioned in the report of GBP 0.63 per kg, is but inaccurate and the actual rate is GBP 1.62 per kg.
The rejoinder also mentioned that as the whole check-in formalities was computerised, as soon as a passenger checked-in, his or her baggage weight is transferred automatically to load control section for final calculation, where the licence holder load controllers calculate and distribute the total weight (passenger, cargo and equipment weight) for balancing purpose as per regulation of manufacturer.
While doing this calculation they must consider that the maximum takeoff weight and maximum landing weight of the aircraft to be in unison.
Our reply: Although the issue of undisclosed hidden weight is a matter of serious safety concern, the Biman rejoinder took it very lightly. Biman is saying that a pilot "guessed" that there might have been some hidden weight. Our report did not mention any guess work. It was based on an internal note of a pilot of a London-Dhaka flight that specifically mentions carrying an undisclosed weight of 5,000 kg, thus jeopardising flight safety.
While the rejoinder terms this as a "guess work", it did not explain how it came to such a conclusion when the report carried specific information. It did not say anything about the extra fuel the pilot had to use to carry this unpaid for cargo.
Biman said in the UK airport, no cargo agent can hide a single kilogram of weight, but the report did not talk about any cargo agent for this irregularity. The report clearly talked about how dishonest Biman staffs were involved in the scam in exchange for bribes. The rejoinder sidestepped this issue by talking about cargo agents.
Involvement of a section of officials in such corruption is nothing new. Biman authorities withdrew its country manager from Bangkok station following media report on March 29 last year after a Biman investigation found the authenticity of a report on how so-called luggage party members (people whose business is to carry goods from foreign countries to Bangladesh) carried several thousand kilograms of undisclosed goods bribing the country manager.
The Daily Star report even quoted acting Biman managing director AM Mosaddique Ahmed who admitted that there had been a couple of such incidents of undisclosed cargo and luggage.
The rejoinder misquoted our report in saying that it mentioned GBP 0.63 per kg as charge for per kg cargo while it actually mentioned as GBP 1.09 each kg. We stand corrected that the actual tariff is GBP 1.62.