Biman banks on Boeing
Biman Bangladesh Airlines may get two new Boeing aircraft by November this year as part of plans to ease pressure on its ageing fleet.
The two wide-body aircraft will improve Biman's chaotic flight schedule, said Biman officials.
Nine of the national carrier's 11 aircraft have been in operation for more than two decades. It remains unclear when the two grounded aircraft -- a DC-10 30 and an Airbus 310-300 -- that are on extensive overhaul would be ready to fly, they said.
Two more identical 777-300ER (Extended Range) aircraft are to be added to the Biman fleet in 2013.
"Once the two aircraft are included in the fleet, Biman's flight schedule and service will improve. It will also boost our economic strength, as the new aircraft will consume less fuel compared to the fuel-guzzling old aircraft," Biman Managing Director Muhammad Zakiul Islam told The Daily Star.
He said they will consider phasing out the age-old aircraft once four Boeing 777 are added to the fleet.
Powered by twin engines, the two Boeings with 419 seats each will fly on long-haul routes that include Dhaka-Manchester-New York, Dhaka-London-Dhaka, Dhaka-Rome-Dhaka, and Dhaka-Sydney-Dhaka.
They are among the 10 new aircraft for which Biman signed a procurement deal with the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing involving Tk 17,250 crore ($2.5 billion). The aircraft include four 777-300ERs, four 787-8 Dreamliners and two 737-800s.
Biman authorities say they are almost certain of getting the two aircraft -- one in October and the other in November -- as they have already completed all preliminary formalities to get $309 million for purchasing the two aircraft.
US-based financial institution JP Morgan will give $277 million under the guarantee of the Export-Import Bank of the USA, while the Standard Chartered Bank will provide a loan of $80 million.
The Biman managing director said the financial institutions have made commitments to provide the loan. A deal with terms and conditions has already been inked and the other documents will be signed in September.
He said Biman engineers are now receiving training at the Boeing factory in Seattle in the USA. Sixteen pilots along with supervisors and several hundred cabin crew will be trained before the two aircraft are added to the fleet.
Biman that came into existence on January 4, 1972, now has two Boeing 737, four DC10-30, three Airbus 310-300 and two F28 regional jet aircraft. It operates flights to only 19 cities across two continents.
No airlines in the world operate DC 10-30 or F28 aircraft any longer, as they have become obsolete and financially unviable.