End of an era
British Airways (BA) is set to bring down the curtain on Bangladesh next week, ending an era of direct Dhaka-London flights.
Travellers are expected to pass more hours on their ways to Europe and North and South Americas.
The airline will say goodbye to Dhaka by making its last takeoff on March 28, as it finds the route "non-profitable".
“It's disappointing. Now I will have to detour to Europe. I could save time flying by British Airways,” said Dr Fahmida Khatun, who used to travel to Europe by the UK's largest carrier quite frequently.
Fahmida, also an economist at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said travel by British Airways was convenient.
Many other professionals, businesspeople, Bangladeshi immigrants also preferred this carrier to others for its direct flights.
British Airways, which entered Bangladesh in 1972, had been operating three flights a week on the Dhaka-London route, offering local business people, expatriates, non-resident Bangladeshis as well as students the fastest travel to London, various European destinations, North and South Americas.
BA officials said the airline used to take 10 hours on an average to reach London from the Bangladesh capital with its 276-seater Boeing- 777.
Earlier, the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) urged the BA authority to reconsider its decision on the suspension of Dhaka-London flights. But its plea remained unheeded.
Following the exit of the airline, which flies more than 550 destinations, travellers will now need about 15 hours to go to London, as the existing carriers, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines, offer travels to Europe and other North Atlantic destinations via different airports like Dubai.
British Airways, according to officials, enjoyed about 80 percent load factor on an average on its Dhaka-London flights, as business class travellers were one of its main strengths.
“Our customers are very unhappy, so am I,” said a BA official.
The official goes into voluntary retirement along with around 40 of his colleagues.
“It's the end of an era as operations of the oldest airline culminates here,” said Kazi Wahidul Alam, editor of The Bangladesh Monitor, an aviation and tourism fortnightly.
“Travellers will be affected much as their travel times will increase,” said Alam, “Now travellers will have to go to their destinations either through the Middle East or Fareast spending five-seven hours more.”
“Mostly affected will be corporate and business travellers,” he said.
The airline, however, said it would continue its cargo operation, using connecting flights via the Middle East.