Like this editorial in The Daily Star, I, too, question the caretaker government’s wisdom in turning Biman Bangladesh, the nation’s moribund flag carrier, into a public limited company (PLC). It’s not an elixir or a magic pill; it won’t make Biman any more viable: in fact it will still be the same debt-ridden, over-extended, over-staffed, and poorly-serviced airline everyone is use to seeing.
The crux of Biman’s problems is a bad business model and poor management. Much of Biman’s problem can be placed at the feet of every government that used it like a political fiefdom, doling out positions to party loyalists. The challenge to right-size Biman is immense: first, staff must be trimmed; second, all outstanding debts must be paid off, or renegotiated at more generous terms; third, new aircraft needs to be ordered; and fourth, a new business plan needs to be formulated and a dynamic management team to implement it. It’s a tall order that requires millions of dollars in additional capital and a lot of patience.
Unless these structural problems are addressed first, with the additional promise of no political interference from this and future governments, turning Biman into a PLC is a pointless exercise.