Biman bent on loss-making NY flight resumption

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:31, Jan 05,2020


Biman Bangladesh Airlines authorities said on Saturday that they were trying to resume Dhaka-New York flight despite knowing that it would be a less profitable route.

Besides, the Chinese authorities were delaying to approve the Bangladesh national flag carrier to operate flight on the Dhaka-Guangzhou route, they said.

The Biman officials said as part of their plan, they would launch Dhaka-Manchester flight thrice a week from Sunday as in future it could carry passengers from Dhaka to New York via Manchester, a major city in the northwest of England where 90,000 Bangladeshis live.

‘There will be marginal profit even if three flights can be operated in a week on Dhaka-New York route… We are hopeful because we have modern aircraft. Frequent flyers put priority over the aircraft quality nowadays,’ said Mokabbir Hossain, Biman’s managing director and chief executive officer, at a press conference meant for selected journalists arranged to mark its 49th founding anniversary.

He said that the US aviation authorities would visit Dhaka to examine whether to approve the flight operation to and from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

‘They have a small [inspection] team and it is difficult to get their schedule,’ said Mokabbir.  

The Boeing 787-9 dreamliner would be operated on Dhaka-Manchester route and it would be the Biman’s 17th international route. In future, Biman has planned to operate flight on Dhaka-Manchester-Toronto, and Dhaka-Manchester-New York routes, the Biman officials said.

Direct flights on Dhaka-Manchester route was closed in September 2012 due to aircraft crisis. The loss-making Dhaka-New York flights of Biman remain suspended since July 2006.

Since its inception on January 4, 1972, Biman currently connects Bangladesh with 16 key cities around the world along with domestic network of seven destinations with a fleet of 18 aircraft mostly procured from Boeing.

Mokabbir said they were planning to operate flights on Dhaka-Guangzhou route but Guangzhou provincial authorities were yet to give permission although the Chinese government has okayed the plan.

He said that the Chinese inspection authorities informed Bangladesh that they will visit Dhaka once they get new fund for inspection purpose by January 15.

‘We hope the process will be completed by February,’ the CEO said without specifying any timeline.

He also said flights on the domestic routes would be increased this year after the arrival of three new Dash-8 aircraft.

He admitted that making Biman and its 6,000 employees completely free from corruption was a difficult task but they were developing a system that would eradicate corruption.

‘We want to depend on the system instead of depending on an individual which automatically helps to reduce corruption,’ Mokabbir said, adding, ‘In the past, we could not stop check-in process in time due to system failure. People even checked-in after the scheduled time. But now we have developed a system which will close all check-in 30 minutes before domestic flights and 1 hour before international flights. We do not want to compromise security’.

He said they were not putting restriction on vehicular movement from the runway to outside to stop alleged gold smuggling.

The CEO also said they have fired at least four contractual employees in past four months over their connections with smuggling.

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