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Can airline companies employ terrorist family members?

Novoair, IAIA, Bangladesh

Travel

Can airline companies employ terrorist family members?

According to the rules of International Air Transport Association (IAIA), airline companies are required to follow strict procedures to ensure none of the staff members are connected to terrorist or militancy activities, because, presence of staffs with terrorist or militancy connection can result in unimaginable security hazard to the passengers of the carrier. Despite such strict rules, a growing private airline company in Bangladesh has been accused of employing a ground staff whose spouse is a terrorist on record and has been actively working in favor of Pakistani intelligence establishment as well as militancy outfits.   

Bangladesh private airline employs terrorist family

The Bangladeshi private airline company Novoair was established in October 2007 as an aviation service provider as the business diversification of parent company Tusuka Group with directors Arshad Jamal, Faiz Khan, Mofizur Rahman, and Fayzur Rahman Badal. The process of establishing a scheduled airline began in late 2011. NOVOAIR launched a commercial operation on 9 Jan 2013 with Embraer 145 jet aircraft. Later the Embraer fleet was replaced with ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft. The airline currently operates to all domestic destinations of the country, with the lone international destination of Kolkata.

In July 2013, Novoair launched Smiles, the frequent-flyer program of the airline. Smiles is the first frequent-flyer program for domestic flights in Bangladesh’s aviation history. Tiered benefits include special offers, travel packages, waiting list priority, priority services (sales counter, check-in and boarding) and excess baggage allowance.

In December 2020, the airline expressed its plan to add three more small-sized aircraft and three mid-sized Airbus A320 by 2022 to extend its international operations to Singapore, Doha, Muscat, Kuala Lumpur alongside Bagdogra, Chennai and Guwahati of India. But due to COVID-19 pandemic the plan has been postponed.

A local daily has published a report giving details about one of Novoair’s staffs, whose husband was accused of abducting an Indian national in 2012 and has been continuing notorious activities in favor of Pakistan.

While we are further investigating this serious allegation, it may be mentioned here that, for a growing airline company this allegation is disturbing particularly as the company is operating flights with a number of cities in India as well as countries like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, which are consistently combating militancy and terrorist acts.

While we are working on this serious issue, hopefully Novoair authorities will initiate immediate steps against its staff, who is the wife of a terrorist.

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Sohail Choudhury is the Executive Editor of Blitz

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