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Submitted by Najmun Noor on
(This is a corrected version of comments submitted earlier after editing typos) Dear Dr. Zahid Hussain, Against the backdrop of a variety of factors impeding the pace at which the country should have been progressing towards being a Middle Income Nation, there are certain other elements that are severe deterrents. The need for a vibrant International Air Traffic Center has become acute. There is no way to fast track the creation of one. Conditions have to be right for a pulsating Air Traffic to be in place. Ironically, the success of domestic carriers is one of them. This evidenced by success of airlines and airports or of both. More often than not, the success of either or both of them is not mutually exclusive. It is not so much a question of the success of one (domestic/native carrier) being dependent on the other (airport) as much the fact it is the success of one inevitably leading to the other. The opportunity for showcasing a country's initial portrait or frontal impression or image is totally lost in the absence of either, or both. Alarm bells are often sounded with either flight of capital or corruption, or both. Hardly anybody takes notice of the loss of earned revenues brought about the near anarchy in the airline industry in Bangladesh. Bilateral point to point traffic gets affected and tampered with when there is overcapacity and markets run amok with large airlines dumping seats. Hardly anybody knows, too that carriers of Bangladesh were arm twisted into paying royalties to the big league carriers of other wealthy countries to address what they felt were"imbalance in capacities (frequencies)". And the result of the carte blanche operation allowed to the major carriers of other carriers: bilateral operators of markets are affected because of other large carriers, as a result of operating to/from markets of their own and with number of seats far exceeding the demand if markets of their own. So, who gets affected from this market indiscipline which deceptively wears the garb of free market mechanism or under the guise of "Open Skies"? The major big league airline is certainly not one of them which has the strength to power through the inordinate number of flights that are hugely excessive than what genuine market demand would suggest. The imbalance thus allowed spells disaster for domestic carriers and, one after the other, their operations cease for long-haul markets because they can never be feasible under this laissez-faire style of operation. Additionally, the possibility of a establishing a proper hub is lost, and with it the chances that would have led to investments and employment in multiple segments of the economy other than aviation as well. The potential of showcasing Bangladesh through its proper hub and projecting the country in other areas or take advantage from, like the multi-billion dollar tourism industry is also lost. Under these circumstances, too, where operations of airlines, should have some semblance of demand and supply, the existence of domestic or native airlines, let alone their growth, is always at stake. Small wonder that we see the domestic carriers, one after the other, end up going bankrupt without knowing what hit them. After all, one can conclude that the national carrier is inefficient. What about the others? The line of causation is simple here:...there is no successful airline unless its hub is successful. Examples of successful airlines all around justify that statement. In other words, the strength that airlines draw is from its hub and the success of it, which in a roundabout rationale, depends on the success of the native airline which makes it its hub. World Bank has gone about setting things right in many areas. Can we go expect something similar in the aviation industry in Bangladesh? After all, there is flight of capital here, too and the first step in the right direction would be to start with an objective and unbiased assessment of market demand. There are skilled experts capable of doing just that under a transparent method. And, by the way, the rationale justifies just that. We sincerely hope that the attention of World Bank will be drawn to making that objective analyses and set the stage of correction