By Ashoke Raj
New Delhi [India], April 18 (ANI): The Raipur Airport managed by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) is all set to start the seizure process against an aircraft of Bangladesh based United Airways.
The aircraft was parked at Raipur's Swami Vivekananda Airport with total outstanding dues of over Rs 1.5 crores for parking and other technical charges.
Speaking to ANI, Raipur Airport Director Rakesh Sahay said, "We have given last chance to United Airways to clear the dues and take away the aircraft. The total outstanding bill of parking and other technical handling is around 1.5 crores. If the company fails to pay the matter will go to the legal department of AAI."
According to Raipur Airport Director, on August 7, 2015, United Airways flight MD-83 took off from Dhaka to Muscat as per schedule with 173 passengers but as per available details with Raipur airport, "engine of the aircraft caught fire mid-air and aircraft was made an emergency landing at Raipur airport and since then, the flight has been parked at the airport and the company has not been able to take any concrete steps to address the issue till now."
There had been no casualties during the emergency landing.
Communications with the airline company have been underway since then. Last year, the airline gave assurance to the Raipur airport officials that the company will clear all dues within nine months. However, the nine months period to clear all the outstanding dues and take the aircraft back to Dhaka has ended last Friday. But neither money nor any assurance came from the company.
During the communications, the airline has assured that they will pay the dues by selling the aircraft but the company has failed to fulfil the commitments.
Finally, the airport has given the last chance to the company to clear all the dues on Friday via mail that reads, "Considering COVID pandemic, the airport has given you (United Airways) enough time. We are giving you more than fifteen days to clear all the outstanding dues and start to process the aircraft's auction."
The story did not end here, this issue was also raised to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as the matter is related to two neighbouring countries.
"We have intimated the matter to Bangladesh embassy in Delhi through MEA. A team has reached to consulate office of Bangladesh in Kolkata," a senior official of AAI told ANI.
The aviation officials said the landing process of the United Airways aircraft was not an easy affair, multiple teams from AAI involved especially the Air Traffic Control (ATC) were involved.
Sahay further explained the landing of the aircraft in August 2015.
Since the flight was en route to an international destination, it was flying over 36,000 feet. For this, major airports from Kolkata to Raipur were taken in the loop to help the aircraft in landing after the pilot conveyed fire in the engine.
"Raipur ATC got an SOS from pilots of United Airways and the ATC advised the pilot of the aircraft to land at Raipur airport as it was crossing Chhattisgarh at that time," he said.
ANI has tried to contact United Airways in this regard through email. However, the airline did not respond to the communication. (ANI)