The Financial Express

The haughty Biman staff 

File photo used for representational image File photo used for representational image

Since its birth in January 1972, Bangladesh's flag carrier, the Biman Bangladesh Airlines, in short, Biman, has been grabbing the headlines more often than not for the wrong reason. It was mostly for lack of performance-poor customer service, failure to meet schedules, mismanagement, making losses, and so forth. Now we have the report of its staff ill-treating a Bangladeshi passenger bound for Saudi Arabia. And the matter came to light during a recently-held public hearing on improving passenger service as well as hearing complaint, if any, against its service. The event was organised by the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) at the Concourse Hall of its departure lounge. At the hearing attended by the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) as the chief guest, the said Saudi-bound passenger dropped a veritable bombshell saying that he was treated like 'a beggar' at the Biman counter at the HSIA. Upon learning that his scheduled flight would be delayed-such delays, often inordinate, are, however, nothing unusual for Biman--the passenger wanted to know about his flight's rescheduled time. So, he approached the Biman staff on duty at the HSIA's counter. But rather than helping the man with the information, the Biman employee at the counter misbehaved with him. Unsurprisingly, as a self-respecting person, the passenger took serious offence at the impudent attitude of the Biman employee towards him. Ironically, there was no one from Biman present at the hearing. So, the CAA chairman himself apologised to the piqued Saudi-bound passenger on behalf of Biman. Now consider this. No Biman staff was present at the hearing on Biman's performance! Such oddity, however, is common in any government, semi-government or autonomous body where the employees know that their jobs are secure, never mind their performance. Unlike in a privately run service-oriented organisation, the employees of this government-owned public limited company (Biman) consider themselves to be untouchable. And what naturally follows from such mindset is that they are the masters, not servants, of those, especially, the members of the common public who approach them for any service. The alleged bad treatment that the man from Daudkandi in Cumilla, Riad Sarkar, received from the Biman staff in question may have raised a few eyebrows especially among the representatives of the foreign airlines present at the event. For they cannot think of such unfriendly manner from their staffs towards their customers. Thankfully, at the CAAB chairman's instance, the station manager of Biman, who appeared a few minutes after the public hearing had begun, assured the aggrieved person of holding the Biman staff at fault to account. The audience at the hearing was also informed of a help desk at the HSIA where an affected person can seek redress from for any denial of service or wrong done to her/him by a Biman employee. It is good to learn that Biman authorities are at least trying to communicate with the customers for their feedback about the national flag carrier's service. But what is more important is continuous monitoring and evaluation of the Biman staff's performance. They have to be made to understand that their job is not something granted, but it is subject to their performance. And the greater part of the performance is about customer satisfaction. Actually, the Biman staff, like any other member of government-run organisation, are in need of an attitudinal change towards the customers in general. And they need especial orientation when it comes to the ordinary customers. The Biman staff should not forget that it is from the remittances of the hard-working migrant workers that their pays and perks also come. 

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