Biman Bangladesh Airlines yesterday (Friday) withdrew its pilot, Captain Fazal Mahmud, from active duty, while the Cabinet Division formed a four-member inter-ministerial body to investigate the incident of the pilot passing the immigration at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport without his passport.
Captain Aminul has been sent to replace Captain Fazal Mahmud, who flew a special plane from Dhaka to bring Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina back from Finland after her three-nation visit but could not pass the immigration at Qatar’s international airport as he was not carrying his passport. Later, the passport of Captain Fazal Mahmud, which he had left in Bangladesh, was sent to Qatar on a different flight.
Confirming the news, Mohibul Haque, secretary to the civil aviation and tourism ministry, said: “Captain Fazal Mahmud will not be able to operate regular flights. So, another pilot is being sent to replace him. He has been withdrawn. The new pilot is scheduled to take the Doha-bound flight around 7:05 pm on Friday.”
Biman Bangladesh Airlines yesterday said Captain Fazal Mahmud, who was allegedly denied entry by Qatar immigration at Doha International Airport, was not detained or arrested by the authorities there.
Mentioning that some media outlets published reports that the pilot was “detained or arrested by the Qatar immigration” for not carrying his passport, Biman clarified in a statement that no such incident of detention or arrest had taken place.
“After landing at the Doha airport on June 5, Captain Fazal Mahmud noticed that he was not carrying his passport. In this situation, he did not go to the immigration check-post at the airport and instead informed the Biman station manager in Doha and also Biman’s Dhaka office in this regard,” read the statement signed by Shakil Meraj, general manager (public relations) of Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
“Later, Captain Fazal Mahmud went to Orix transit hotel before the immigration check-post in the airport and stayed there. On June 6, he received his passport after it was sent from Bangladesh and completed his immigration formalities without any complication and went to Crown Plaza Hotel in Doha,” it read.
“Presently, he is staying at the hotel, and as per the decision of the Biman authorities he will operate flight BG126 from Doha to Dhaka on June 10 morning,” it stated.
The authorities called upon all concerned not to spread any further confusion in this regard, the statement added.
In another statement, an office order signed by Gazi Tarique Salman, senior assistant secretary of the Cabinet Division, said it would investigate the reason behind Captain Fazal Mahmud’s Doha visit without the passport. It would also find out the reason behind the failure of the immigration at Sahjalal International Airport in following the due procedure of checking the passport of Captain Mahmud.
The probe committee would hand over the report to the Cabinet secretary within three working days.
Led by additional secretary of the Cabinet Division, Ms Nasima Begum, the other committee members are Helal Mahmud Sharif, joint secretary of the home ministry’s security department, Mustakim Billah Farooqi, joint secretary of the civil aviation and tourism ministry, and Jahangir Alam, joint secretary of the home ministry’s public security department.
Sources said the immigration police will suspend an official at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in connection with allowing the pilot to cross immigration without a passport. Immigration police sources said that four to five people have already been interrogated.
Besides, CCTV video footage is being reviewed. The immigration police complained that the pilot did not cooperate with the immigration officer when he was passing the airport immigration.
The immigration superintendent of police, Mohammad Shahriar, said: “After the incident, we interrogated the designated officials. We will take action against the accused. We took everything for investigation. The investigation is almost over.”
After spreading the news in the media, Captain Fazal Mahmud told some reporters that he had forgotten his passport, but did not face any issues at Doha immigration.
“I usually keep my passport inside a bag that I carry during flights,” he told reporters over the phone yesterday.
“I took it out of the bag on June 3 for some banking work and forgot to put it back. It was all a mistake,” he added.