Biman Bangladesh Airlines (BG, Dhaka) has asked the Bangladeshi government to convert its BDT25 billion taka (USD295 million) debt into equity and waive an additional BDT26.5 billion (USD313 million) in interest and surcharges, The Financial Express newspaper has reported citing a letter by Chief Executive Mokabbir Hossain.

The request covers liabilities to the state-owned Padma Oil Company amounting to BDT14.5 billion (USD171 million) and BDT6.6 billion (USD78 million) in interest, and to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh amounting to BDT10.5 billion (USD124 million) and BDT19.9 billion (USD235 million) in surcharges.

Hossain underlined that the carrier, which has recently returned to profitability, is meeting its current obligations towards both entities. Its monthly fuel bill paid to the Padma Oil Company totals around BDT550 million (USD6.5 million) while CAAB fees total around BDT200 million (USD2.4 million) per month. However, the Bangladeshi flag carrier, which is investing heavily in fleet renewal, is unable to repay debts that date back to as far as 2007.

The airline last received debt relief in 2007 when it was transformed into a public liability company. At that time, the government assumed or waived a total of BDT29.8 billion (USD352 million at the 2020 exchange rate) in debt to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and the CAAB.

In the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2019, Biman Bangladesh Airlines posted a BDT2.9 billion (USD34 million) net profit.

In separate news, The Daily Star has reported that the Dhaka court has granted bail to four current and former executives of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, including former Managing Director Mosaddique Ahmed, in a case related to an alleged scam in recruiting 30 pilots.