Friday, March 12, 2021

Why a Bangladesh plane that made emergency landing in 2015 is still stuck in Raipur

New Delhi: Around 7 pm on 7 August 2015, an aircraft of United Airways, a now-defunct Bangladeshi airline, made an emergency landing at Raipur’s Swami Vivekanand airport after an engine failure on its way from Dhaka to Muscat. 

Over five and a half years later, the McDonnell Douglas MD 83 continues to occupy one of the eight parking bays at the Raipur airport. It has notched up parking dues to the tune of Rs 1.25 crore, but no one from the company has arrived to fly it back home despite repeated communications from the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

After years of back and forth with United Airways, the AAI in January began the legal process for the aircraft’s eviction, which will involve selling the plane to recover its dues. 

“The airline responded to our legal notice on 18 January asking for nine months to sell their aircraft. We are deliberating if we should accept this offer because they have repeatedly broken their promises,” said Raipur Airport Director Rakesh Sahay. “We will come to a decision in a week.”

Three weeks after the emergency landing, a team from the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh landed in Raipur for an inspection of the aircraft. A few months later, another team arrived and replaced the faulty engine. However, owing to the absence of a ‘Certificate of Airworthiness’ from the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh — a mandatory requirement — the plane could not take off. 

Senior officials of the AAI at Raipur say they have contacted the airline through roughly 50 letters and emails since 2015, but to no avail. “We send the company monthly reminders. Every time their reply would remain the same, that they are awaiting approval from the Bangladesh aviation authority,” Sahay added.

12/03/21 Taran Deol/Print

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