Business Overview and Job Experience at Biman Bangladesh Airlines
Biman Bangladesh at a Glance:
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. is the most reputed airlines in Bangladesh. It is popularly known as Biman. Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd is the flag carrier airline of Bangladesh. As a member of IATA, it flies passengers and cargo to 16 international destinations in Asia and Europe. It goes to most of the destinations directly or via a stopover. Convenient transfer connections from Dhaka to regional destinations are easily available. Biman is reputed for its well-trained and dedicated crew with appreciable safety record.
The airline’s Reservation and Departure Control System and other communication systems are fully computerized. Biman is now striving to make the airline more attractive to its valued passengers by fixing priority on providing more comfort. Its main hub is Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka and also operates flights from Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong, earning revenue from the connecting service to Osmani International Airport in Sylhet. Biman provides international passenger and cargo service to Asia and Europe, as well as major domestic routes. It has air service agreements with 42 countries, but only flies to 16. The airline was wholly owned and managed by the Government of Bangladesh until 23 July 2007, when it was transformed into the country’s largest public limited company by the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh. The airline’s headquarters, Balaka Bhaban, is located in Kurmitola, Dhaka.
In addition to its own aircraft, Biman’s ground-handling unit also provides support to Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air, Saudia, Gulf Air, PIA, Indian Airlines, Dragon Air, Druk Air, etc.at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka.
Though Biman has been facing huge amount of financial loss from last few years, the loss has been diminishing.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines was established on 4 January 1972. It was established under Biman Ordinance. The initiative to launch the airline was taken by 2,500 former employees, including ten Boeing 707 commanders and seven other pilots of Pakistan International Airlines, who submitted a proposal to the government on 31 December 1971 following the independence of Bangladesh. The airlines was initially called Air Bangladesh but was soon renamed Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
In modern Bengali, the word (Biman) refers to “aero plane “, originating from the Sanskrit Word Vimana, a given to a flying machine mentioned in ancient Vedic Literature. The logo, painted on the tail, is a stylized white stork bolaka inside a red circle. The initial livery was a dark blue line extending across the aircraft along the windows and covering the tail section. This was replaced in the 1980 by dark green and red lines, matching the colures of Bangladesh flag, and has remained for over two decades. The bolaka has also given its name to the Biman headquarters, the bolaka bhaban and a landmark sculpture in Dhaka depicting storks is front of Biman’s former headquarters.
Biman came into being on January 04, 1972 with a gift of DC-3 aircraft from Bangladesh Air force. Presently Biman has two 737-800, four DC10-30, three A310-300 and three F28-4000 aircraft in its fleet. In the 2005–06 fiscal years, Biman carried 1.15 million passengers, a growth of 70% over the previous decade.
Biman does entire maintenance work on its F-28 aircraft. Biman is also doing C-check, D-check on DC10-30 and A310-300 in its hangar complex at Dhaka. Checks, repair and maintenance of one DC10-30, one wide bodied Boeing and two F-28 aircraft can be done simultaneously there.
To establish Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. in the aviation market as a world-class airline.
To provide safe, reliable, efficient, adequate, economical and properly co-coordinated air transport services and to satisfy customers’ expectations while earning sustainable profit and continuing to be a caring employer.
To provide and develop safe, efficient, adequate, economical and properly coordinated air transport services, internal as well as international.
The core businesses/activities
- Air transportation of passengers,
- Air transportation of cargo.
The non-core businesses/activities
- Ground and cargo handling services for own and foreign airlines
- Engineering services
- Bangladesh Airlines Training Centre (BATC)
- Biman Flight Catering Center (BFCC)
- Biman Poultry Complex (BPC)
- Motor transport
- Medical services
- Biman Printing Press
- Partnership Business with Abacus (National marketing Company
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. was wholly owned by the Bangladesh government through the Bangladesh Biman Corporation since its launch. In 1977, Biman was converted into a public sector corporation which afforded Biman limited autonomy, led by a government-appointed board of directors. Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. has a huge manpower. Manpower status, as of May 31, 2010 is given below:
So, a total of 4697 persons are working in Biman in different levels of which 2800 and 400 of them are working on permanent (holding P numbers) & contractual (holding G numbers) basis. 1494 persons are working on casual basis (holding C numbers).
So, the MER (Man-Equipment Ratio) is 392:1 which is a matter to be looked at as the industry standard is 200:1 and the other airlines in Asia has maintained it at around 150:1. However, there are some reasons behind this high MER. Compared to others Asia airlines which operate many regional flights by narrow body aircrafts in its fleet. So, number of aircrafts is poor compared to manpower although number of passengers is quite large. Also, many functions that other airlines outsource are done in house. For instance, Engineering, GSE, Ground handling, Motor Transport etc. noncore operations are not outsourced. These departments could be made subsidiaries that Singapore Airlines did long ago. Even the E-ticketing is not outsourced too. There would be a significant reduction in manpower if these services are outsourced and the MER would come within limit.
Trusted: It starts with a commitment to personal and corporate integrity.
Attributes: honest, fair, dependable, responsive and consistent.
Collaborative: Teaming with coworkers and our customers to provide services that are better than what we can do individually.
Attributes: Respect, listening, learning, contributing, customized, scalable and robust.
Innovative: Applying technologies, processes and methods in new ways to provide quality services.
Attributes: creative, unique, relevant, practical, proven and valuable.
A look on Operational and Financial Performance:
The Directors of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited observed that the company has made a consolidated loss of Tk. 80.14 crore during the year 2010-2011.
During the financial year 2010-2011, Biman has earned total revenue of Tk. 2,913.60 crore including revenue from Hajj Operation of Tk. 290.17 crore. During the previous year 2008-09, it was Tk. 3,012.82 crore including revenue from Hajj Operation of Tk. 298.82 crore.
Passenger revenue contributed about 77.87% of total operating revenue of the airline. Cargo and Excess-Baggage contributed 8.22% and 1.27% respectively. It may be mentioned here that due to capacity constraint, Biman could not fully exploit the cargo market opportunity, Biman has brought cargo under automation and other modern marketing mechanism has also been set to optimize revenue with the planned fleet enhancement.
Due to aged aircraft and fleet constraints even with leased aircraft during the 2nd half of the year, Biman failed to achieve satisfactory level of schedule regularity during the period under review. With a view to Fleet Modernization, Biman has signed agreement in April and May 2008with Boeing for procurement of 10 new generation fuel-efficient arcraft. Other strategies have been taken to remobve existing fleet constraint, efficiency enhancement and image building. One 777-200er and two 777-200 aircraft have joined to the fleet in January 2011.
Activities of the Company
Directors would like to highlight some significant achievements during the period and a background and future plan of the activities of the company.
All Economy Class
Biman continued to earn additional revenue through all-economy operations of its DC10-30 fleet enabling to increase its Economy Class capacity by 15 percent. However, with the re-branding initiative presently under process to enhance Biman’s Image, operation of DC10-30 fleet will be restricted to selected routes only in the coming days.
Biman is honored to have to have the opportunity to serve the Hajj pilgrims. During the fiscal year, it successfully transported 31,700 Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia through operation of 54 Hajj flights and also 32 scheduled flights from Dhaka and Chittagong. During the previous year, Biman had transported 29,604 Hajj pilgrims through 40 Hajj flights and 34 scheduled flights.
Direct Service DAC-LHR-DAC
Biman has introduced dedicated direct flights on DAC-LHR-DAC route since March 2010. It may also be mentioned that there is no direct flights from DAC-LHR-DAC by other Airlines.
Biman had 22 destinations in its network including 02 domestic destinations. Due to continuous losses, operation on some destination was suspended. This initiative decreased losses. With the induction of additional aircrafts, some of the suspended routes have been revived. Operation to NYC is expected to resume soon.
New Look of Marketing & Sales Team
As part of the re-organization plan, restructuring of the Marketing Department has been undertaken to prepare the airline for the highly competitive market environment. The reorganized Marketing approach places emphasis on revenues from income streams of Passenger, Cargo and other Businesses.
Introducing Intranet and Office Management Software
With the cooperation of Boeing, Biman has established a PC based intranet that would enable speedy decision-making. This state of the auto system would take help from different Office Management Software which will make routine decision making very user-friendly.
Migration of Reservation and SITATEX Services
Biman used Dumb Terminals for its reservation services for the last two decades. In addition, older version of SITATEX played an important role for messaging services, biman entered into New Generation Network and replaced Dumb Terminals and older PCs for entire network. For doing so, they have introduced IP-VPN (Internet protocol- Virtual Private Network) for network side and replaced desktops by branded PCs. This migration results to access high-speed data transfer. At present, they possess a world standard reservation and SITATEX services.
AIRLOGICA (DATA Mining Technology)
Working in partnership with GDS companies is very important. It is equally important to maintain GDS cost at a rational level. Biman has signed an agreement with AIRLOGICA. It uses sophisticated data mining techniques to assist airlines to fully appreciate Global Distribution System costs by allowing the user to choose reports and perform ad hoc queries.
Billing & Settlement Plan (BSP)
In 2008-09, Biman initiated efforts to bring its station under BSP. By the end of 2008-09, all Biman stations have been brought under BSP except Rome due to local market scenario. BSP is a system designed to facilitate and simplify the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA Accredited Passenger Sales Agents, as well as to improve financial control and cash flow for BSP Airlines. A truly worldwide system, at the close of 2008, there were 88 BSPS, covering 160 countries and territories serving 400 airlines, while gross sales processed amount to USD 239 billion. BSP simplifies total distribution burdens of the airlines as agents issue on Sales Report and remit one amount to a central point, airlines receive one settlement covering all agents and most importantly agents’ sales are reported electronically. This has caused savings both for Biman and its agents. Biman not only participated in BSP but also made it mandatory to all its agents. Now agents are dealing with Biman in a more secured environment with reduced financial risk exposure.
Cargo Accounts Settlement System (CASS)
Biman has also been among the pioneering airlines to introduce Cargo Accounts Settlement Systems (CASS), designed to simplify the billing and settlement of accounts between airlines and freight forwarders. It operates through CASS link, and advanced global web-enables e-billing solution. CASS yields a two-fold solution as it replaces:
- Airlines’ traditional paper based invoicing.
- Agents’ manual controlling of those invoices, while all benefits from the enhanced financial control and improved cash flow as the CASS rate of success in collecting funds is virtually 100%.
CASS has been fully in operation in this year with 27 Freight Forwarders and 4 Airlines members. As per IATA Mandate, E-freight to be 100% implemented globally. Bangladesh needs to sign on Montreal Protocol 1999 or Montreal Protocol 2004 immediately to introduce E-freight in Bangladesh this year.
Passengers Intelligence Service (PaxlS)
At the beginning of 2008 Biman took the initiative of implementing PaxlS, a powergul and essential market intelligence tool for air travel analysis, which was finally implemented during May 2009. PaxlS, a product developed by IATA Business Intelligence Service, is the nost comprehensive airline passenger market intelligence database available today, with more accurate, reliable and affordable data captured through IATA Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP). PaxlS reports issued ticket information from more than 400 airlines carriers covering 82 BSP offices. The product is presently being extensively used for Network planning, Fleet planning Marketing planning and Agency monitoring and performance analysis.
After implementing E-ticketing in 2007-08, within the IATA dead line, Biman continued to achieve improvement in this area. Through implementation of Departure Control System in RLIH, JED and CGP, travels with e-ticketing from those stations were made smoother. Interline E-ticketing Agreements were signed with 9 more airlines.
Launching Internet Booking Engine
Biman introduced Internet Booking Engine (IBE) for the airline’s reservation and ticketing system. By introducing IBE to the airline’s ticketing system, passengers will now directly retrieve information about airline schedules and able to make booking.
Internet Booking Engine (IBE) is an application, which helps the travel and tourism industry support reservation through the internet. It helps the consumers to book flights, hotels, holiday packages, insurance and other services online. This is a much needed application for the aviation industry as it has become one of the fastest growing sales channels.
With the introduction of Internet Booking Engine (IBE), the airlines, has been able to make direct exposure to customers. Again IBE will help Biman to cut off extra expenses and to support instant booking and payment.
Improvement of Yields
Taking into consideration the practicality of different markets, passenger demands, seasonality and competitors’ activities, Biman’s fare have been re-fixed on many sectors on higher side, after proper review time to time, which yielded in positive revenue generations. In line with practice of reputed airlines, new RBD’s (Various fare structures in same class, depending on the time of making reservations), have been established/improved for augmenting revenue earnings.
Non-stop services by B-777
Introduction of non-stop services by B-777 on DAC-LON-DAC and DAC-ROM-DAC sectors has helped Biman retain/improve its ethic in the face of stiff competition from other indirect operators. Biman strengthened its position in UK market, as this non-stop service has been proved very popular to the Bangladeshi ethic community. Operation of B-777 to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for 3 months in fiscal year 2009-10, before utilizing it on London and Rome sectors, helped Biman carry huge labor, tourist and business traffic from different points, especially from Katmandu.
London-Dubai-Sylhet Direct Flight
In meeting the long demand of ethnic Bangladeshi passengers, the routing of one of the Sylhet bound flights as London-Dubai-Sylhet direct with Airbus aircraft with higher fares earned Biman a good revenue.
Improvement of Incentive Plan
Productivity Incentive Plan, bonus and lick-back schemes for travel agents of various markets motivated them sell Biman more, and traveling passengers also took advantage of these schemes. Introduction of Group Fares for certain sectors also clicked in Barman’s favor.
Improvement of Cargo Rates
Cargo rates have been improved on many sectors. The bulk courier baggage ex-Hong Kong carried by Calcutta-originated passengers and the huge house-hold console shipments from London destined for Sylhet poured huge revenue in Barman’s exchequer.
BFCC-Biman’s most important independent business unit
Biman Flight Catering Centre (BFCC), a wholly owned independent unit of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. was setup in 1989. BFCC provides Biman’s in-flight meals and is one of the Biman;s most profitable operations, regularly supplying food to Etihad Airways. Air Afriqiyah and Cathay Pacific with casual orders from other airlines operating to Bangladesh. Saudi Arabian Airlines and China Eastern has started uplift of catering items and services from BFCC during the financial year 2009-10.
A job description is a written statement of what the jobholder does, how it is done, under what condition and why. Biman has job descriptions for its every designation. I have included two job descriptions in my Appendix. Before recruiting any employee, Biman outlines the activities of that particular job. For example, on the advertisement of a vacancy post of Manger at Employment Section, Biman says that the Manager has to regulate all activities related to recruit and select employees. The Manger has to ensure proper implementation of recruitment procedures adopted by the Management from time to time. He/she has to integrate the purpose of Employment Section with the overall mission of the Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited.
Job specifications are the minimum requirements of a job to do the job successfully. For example, a pilot has to fly and land the aircrafts. To do this, he/she has to follow specific rules. A Human Resource Manager has to know the basic principles regarding how to recruit, select, appraise performance, promote and motivate.
Factors that Affect Recruiting Effort
Because of retirement, promotion, leaving jobs and firing employees, Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. has to recruit and select employees frequently in consistent of previous planning. For example, few days ago Cadet Pilots and Junior Traffic Assistants were recruited and selected. Size of the organization is a very important factor to recruit and select people. Working condition affects the recruitment and selection process. Salary and benefits of the particular job also influence it.
Constraints Affecting on Recruitment in Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd.
The ideal recruitment effort might bring in a satisfactory number of qualified candidates/applicants who want the job, but certain realities cannot be ignored. Biman as a big organization always wants to recruit the best candidates as much as possible. But really qualified applicants might not want to apply this organization for the job. This can be happened for few reasons. Let us examine those reasons in brief:
An actually eligible candidate may not be interested to apply at the particular organization for the particular position as I noted earlier. This can be happened because of the image of that organization. Declining revenue, engaging in practices that result in a corrupted organization, poor-quality of service or product and failing to meet the reasonable needs of employees are some of the reasons of an organization of having lower image toward the organization. Biman possesses most of those reasons to the people. Many people think that, if they can get a job to Biman they can be a rich person very easily through earning money in a corrupted way. The regulatory system of Biman is weak although it is becoming strong day by day. It will take time. Many times media publishes many negative things about Biman which has not occurred really. Media publishes more from the reality that has made an negative image of Biman.
If the position to be filled is an unattractive job, recruiting a large and qualified pool of applicants can be difficult. The labor market of Bangladesh is transforming from manual workers to knowledge workers. Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. has few manual job sectors like Engineering, Motor Transport and Ground Service Equipment. To persuade candidates, Biman has to offer good salary and benefits to them.
Internal Organizational Policies
Biman has no internal organizational policies to recruit people. But candidates who have very good relations with upper level personnel often get priority to get job. And it is well known at the outside of our country. That’s why many qualified people do not try at Biman.
The government’s influence in the recruiting process at Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd cannot be overlooked. Though Biman is now a Public Limited Company, government has a great influence on recruitment and selection of employees. If any request comes from the Ministers or MPs, employees of Employment Section cannot neglect him although he/she is not fully eligible for the job. If Biman wants to hire only attractive females for flight attendance positions will find it breaking the law if comparably qualified male candidates are rejected on the basis of gender or female candidates are rejected on the basis of age. Biman follows the rules of Public Service Commission in case of quota to recruit candidates.
Recruiting cost is an important factor of Employment Section. Biman had to scrutinize almost 1500 CVs against 130 post of Junior Traffic Assistant job. Scrutinizing CVs, sorting them, giving exams, hiring college rooms and giving wages of the teachers who guard the exam rooms’ etc activities cost a lot. Those activities cost almost 40,000 taka. Employment Section gets this amount from HR affairs. Biman has been facing great amount of loss for last many years and it has no way but to expend a lot to recruit people. Every year Biman has to expend lots of money because of recruitment and selection of employees.
Recruiting is more likely to achieve its objectives if recruiting sources reflect the type of position to be filled. Some recruiting sources may be proved to be effective while others may be proved to be wrong. So, Biman recruits people from the most effective sources that are discussed below:
The Internal Search
Many large organizations attempt to develop their own low-level employees for higher positions. These promotions can occur through an internal search of current employees who have bid for the job.
For encouraging the internal candidates, job vacancies in Biman may be advertised through internal notices to all biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited employees. Recruitment from the internal source may be through Promotion or delegating individuals with new assignments. In case of internal sourcing, HR along with the concerned Division/Department will identify prospective candidates on the basis of individual Capability matching with competency/Role profile and will conduct appropriate tests to select the most suited person. In case of internal search, Biman collects CVs from employee referrals.
The External Search
In short, external sources mean collecting CVs from outside. Biman collects lots of CVs from outside. Most of the times, Biman searches candidates from external sources. Recruitment from external sources will be through:
- Executive search- for Senior Managers and above positions.
- Advertisement- for managers and below positions.
In case of external search, Biman collects CVs from following sources:
- HR CV box.
- Few ways of external sources are given below:
Biman uses print media to advertise the job vacancies. The Daily Star, the Ittefaq, the Prothom Alo and the Daily Shongram are some of the newspapers on which Biman gives advertisements.
Recruitment of Contractual & Others
This policy governs the appointment of individuals on Contract/Casual basis and through third party service providers. Prior to the employment process, the Division/Department concerned must obtain approval from the Managing Director. The manpower requisition must contain the job specification with justification of the need along with the period.
Jobs which are temporary in nature and is likely to be for a limited period or need is for a long term but cannot be hired on a permanent basis due to restrictions. Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited hires employees at temporary/Contractual basis for 3 years. After being employed for 3 years, employees become permanent. Within these 3 years, employees may be fired because of any misconduct or poor performance.
The division/department concerned will initiate the recruitment in concert with HR. Upon finalizing the recruitment and selection, HR will issue the formal appointment letter. Employees hired on contract must go for pre-employment medical test and subject to satisfactory result the incumbent will be allowed to join.
Standard terms and conditions similar to permanent employee especially adherence of code of business ethics, confidentiality and full time engagement clauses must be included.
If a contract employee is made permanent (based on performance/capability/headcount) the service length of that individual will be counted from the first day of the joining provided the contract period. Salary & benefits will be fixed on the incumbents’ educational and professional background. A contract employee will be entitled to same level of salary and benefits if he/she hired in a poison that already exists in the permanent payroll.
Recruitment for Internship
Internship is one of the parts of graduation for student. In case of Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration, it is obligatory. For this reason Universities and students send CVs of students to Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. for internship.
Recruitment of interns is almost similar to the recruitment of contractual. The candidates have to face the interview and if they get selected then they will be appointed as intern. The requisition for interns is send by the department head or the employee who need intern. When requisition comes, the Manager and Asst. Manager of Employment Section of Biman arranges informal interview.