The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 of Biman yesterday left for Birmingham to operate scenic tours for aviation enthusiasts there but insiders say that the farewell for the last passenger-carrying workhorse could cost Biman dearly.
The DC-10 left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport yesterday morning and it would take 13 hours to reach its destination with a stopover at Kuwait. It will then make nine scenic tours around Birmingham over three days and return direct to Dhaka empty.
Biman insiders claimed that the roundtrip, excluding the scenic tours, would alone cost around Tk 2.33 crore and there were only 29 fare paying passengers onboard the flight to England and Biman would get only Tk 32 lakh in revenue.
Biman could get about Tk 2 crore if all 144 seats in each of the scenic tour flights are sold out but it would cost Tk 91 lakh excluding airport charges which could run into lakhs, said Biman officials requesting anonymity.
When contacted via email, Biman Bangladesh Airlines Managing Director Kevin Steele, however, said, “The scenic flights are very profitable.”
Biman sources claimed that Steele unilaterally made the decision to fly the DC-10 to Birmingham even though many top officials were against the idea.
Even though the last passenger-carrying flight of the DC-10 did not get high number of passengers, some enthusiasts came to Dhaka from as far as the USA and the UK to be on the flight to Birmingham.
“I was waiting for this moment and now I am here to be a part of the history,” said Seth Miller who came all the way from the USA.
Another passenger, who came to Dhaka for the first time from Birmingham just to fly back on the DC-10, said, “I am happy to be a part of this historical moment.”
He claimed that 100,000 people would be waiting in Birmingham to see the scenic flights and a few thousand lucky would make the flights.
The DC-10 joined Biman's fleet in August 1983. It had been the backbone of the fleet for nearly a quarter of a century. At one point, Biman had six of these planes.
Biman MD Steele said the DC-10 would not go to any museum as said before and it would be sold as scrap once it returns. Only a handful of DC-10s are now in service and all of them are cargo carrying.