Bangladeshi airlines expanding wings amid Chinese monopoly

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 00:05, Apr 28,2018 | Updated: 00:06, Apr 28,2018

 
 

A Bangladeshi airline has started flight operation to Chinese trade city Guangzhou from Thursday night and two others are in the pipeline amid tight regulations imposed by China, who now wants a revision of air service agreements between the two countries.
China now wants to operate flights on Kunming-Chittagong route, officials said, adding that it requested civil aviation and tourism minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal on Thursday to revise air service agreements to increase flights between the two countries.
A high-level delegation comprising officials at Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, Biman Bangladesh
Airlines and Regent Airways is now in China to discuss on a revision of the agreement expanding passenger and cargo flights, the officials said.
Civil aviation director flight safety and regulations Chowdhury Zia-ul Kabir, who is on team, said before leaving Dhaka that they wanted a ‘justified agreement’ with China so that none of the Bangladesh airlines needed to make loss while operating flights to cities in China.
According to the civil aviation authority, the existing agreement allows each of the countries to operate 14 passenger and 7 cargo flights in a week. Bangladesh now planned to expand to 21 passenger and 14 cargo flights in a week.
A number of Bangladeshi airlines said that they had been trying to operate flights over the years, but rigid visa system for crew and pilots and time slot delayed the process.
Private airline US-Bangla Airlines Thursday night made its maiden flight to Guangzhou, a sprawling port city northwest of Hong Kong, with its Boeing 737-800 with 151 passengers on board.
‘We wanted to operate the flight from October 2017 but finally got our slots after six months…even those all are at night,’ said US-Bangla chief executive officer Imran Asif.
This was the first flight of any Bangladesh airlines to China mainland although Biman suspended its flight to Hong Kong about three years ago.
China has long been enjoying monopoly business on Dhaka-Guangzhou and Dhaka-Kunming routes by their China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.
Initially, weekly three flights will be operated from Dhaka to Guangzhou on every Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday and from Guangzhou to Dhaka on every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
‘But, the problem is,’ Asif said ‘We are not getting slot in the morning. We have changed flight schedule with Malaysia to start our flight to China.’
Regent Airways and Biman Bangladesh Airlines also want to operate flights on Dhaka- Guangzhou or Kunming routes.
Another problem with operation in China is visa for the crew.
‘None of the countries around us has the rigid system for crew members,’ said Imran Asif.
Amid the situation, Chinese ambassador Zhang Zuo met the civil aviation and tourism minister at the ministry on Thursday and expressed the interest of China Eastern Airlines to operate flight on Kunming-Chittagong route.
Zhang Zuo also wanted to increase the flight on Dhaka-Kunming and Dhaka – Guangzhou routes considering the reality, said a release issued by the ministry.
The minister assured the Chinese envoy those necessary steps would be taken to rationalise the flights between the two countries. 

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