Biman to increase flights to London
Biman is set to increase flights to London by the end of this year after taking delivery of its second Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in November, said a senior official of the state-run carrier.
The airline wants to operate six weekly flights to London, up from four at present, said Shakil Meraj, Biman's spokesperson, ahead of taking delivery of the aircraft from Boeing.
In 2008, Bangladesh's flag carrier signed a $2.5 billion deal with the American aircraft manufacturer for ten planes: four 777-300ERs, two 737-800s and four 787-8 Dreamliners.
The first of the four Dreamliners, a mid-size long-haul jet, is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka today, buoying Biman's small fleet of 12 aircraft.
Biman said it will fly the 787-8 Dreamliner jet, which has 271 seats including 24 business class ones, on the Dhaka-Singapore and Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur routes from September 1.
The second 787-8 Dreamliner will arrive in November, after which the flight frequency to London will be increased.
But the increased frequency depends on the availability of slots at London's Heathrow airport, said the official of Biman, the lone airline offering direct flights between London and Dhaka.
It enjoys more than 90 percent cabin factor and 95 percent load factor on the route, according to Meraj. The remaining two Dreamliners will be added to the state carrier's fleet next year, enabling Biman to complete its fleet modernisation plan taken a decade ago.
Until now, the state airline has got delivery of four 777-300ER and two 737-800 aircraft from Boeing.
In the absence of a modern fleet, Biman's fortunes suffered.
Biman will also add two more Boeing 737-800 on a long-term lease and a Dash 8Q-400 this year to strengthen its capacity to fly to more international destinations from next year.
“We have plans to start flights to new destinations such as Guangzhou, Colombo, Male and Medina. Through market study we have found that these destinations have potential and we have prospect to run profitably.”
For example, demand for cargo between Dhaka and Guangzhou is huge because of high volumes of bilateral trade between China and Bangladesh, he said.
In addition, prospect on the Dhaka-Colombo and the Maldives' Male is good as a lot of Bangladeshis work in Male and many Sri Lankans work in Bangladesh.
Medina also holds great promise as many Bangladeshi migrants work there and a lot of Bangladeshis go to the city during Umrah and Hajj, he said.
The state airline also plans to add Toronto and Sydney in its destination map after it gets all the four Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.
The jet's capacity to fly 16 hours at a stretch and its 20 percent more fuel efficiency than similar sized planes made Biman consider these new destinations, Meraj added.