Biman Bangladesh Airlines (BG, Dhaka) was transformed into a public limited company in 2007. But on September 14, the country's cabinet met to approve a draft law retaining a provision for full government control over the flag carrier, the Daily Star newspaper reported.

The Bangladeshi cabinet approved in principle a draft of what is titled the Bangladesh Biman Corporation (Repeal) Bill 2020, under which the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism would have the authority to create, dissolve, and reorganise the board of directors of the company.

The existing Bangladesh Biman Corporation Ordinance 1977 is no longer required and is being repealed, cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam explained at a press conference after the meeting, which had been chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The ministry will soon take control of Biman Bangladesh Airlines as it is a government-owned company, Mohibul Haque, senior secretary at the ministry, elaborated to the Daily Star.

The relevant government departments also run state-owned oil firms Petrobangla and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and their subsidiaries, he said, but “as there is no such department to run Biman, the civil aviation ministry will look after it.”

Under the act that turned Biman Bangladesh Airlines into a public limited company on July 23, 2007, during the regime of a military-backed caretaker government, Biman was allowed to operate independently and take its own decisions. The current board is comprised of 13 members, most of whom are government officials and all of whom are government-appointed.

As previously reported, in January 2020 it asked the 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, according to a report by the Financial Express newspaper. In his letter, chief executive Mokabbir Hossain reportedly stressed that the carrier, which had recently returned to profitability, was meeting its obligations. Still, while investing heavily in fleet renewal, it was unable to repay some debts that dated back as far as 2007.