Indian private airlines Spicejet wants to operate on Kolkata-Dhaka route although it did not repay an outstanding overflying surcharge amounting to US$ 0.91 million for years, a civil aviation official said.
Now the airline has been lobbying for getting a waiver of the surcharge through their local agent for a couple of months. The CAAB has sent the issue to the ministry for a decision.
At present, Spicejet does not have any flight operation in Bangladesh.
The airlines proposed to the civil aviation authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) in March 2016 to operate its flight to Dhaka from 01 October the same year. But the authority turned down the proposal due to high amount of overflying arrears but it gave them the facility for repayment in instalments.
The total outstanding overflying surcharge was US$ 1.092 million, which the private carrier had agreed to repay in 48 instalments. But after paying two instalments amounting to US$ 45,490, Spicejet stopped repaying again and tried to influence CAAB through its high commission in Dhaka and the tourism ministry instead.
After failure of its bid to have the surcharge waived, Spicejet once again started repayment in instalment. CAAB now extends one month for overflying on repayment by the airline by 25th-26th of every month.
The CAAB official said Spicejet has so far repaid eight instalments. But the airline is still trying at every level to get the flight operation permission, he added.
The official also said Spicejet owes the highest outstanding surcharge among various foreign airlines, which have overdue overflying charges.
In the last letter dated October 18, 2016, sent to civil aviation and tourism secretary SM Golam Faruque by CAAB, it was clearly mentioned that there was no previous instance of waiving overflying surcharge of any foreign airlines. Moreover, CAAB does not have the authority to waive any surcharge. The government or the ministry only can waive it.
Talking to the FE, a top CAAB official said the authority already made its position clear in response to a letter sent by the tourism ministry to the CAAB on October 06, 2016. The tourism ministry asked the authority to inform the ministry about any instance of any waiver of surcharge.
When contacted, tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon said CAAB sent the letter to the secretary and he could not comment on the issue as he had not seen the file.
But he said that he was aware of the arrears and exchange of letters. But he could only talk about the decision to waive the surcharge after the file reached him.
Talking to the FE, secretary Golam Faruque said the amount turned outstanding before he joined the ministry. The airlines tried to get the waiver diplomatically. But CAAB refused to do so and instead provided them instalment facility for repayment.
Now Spicejet has applied for getting the waiver.
“We have told them about our decision not to waive their surcharge,” said the Secretary.