New private airline to join the fray
A new airline, Air Astra, is set to take off in January next year, becoming the eleventh private operator to enter the industry in the past 25 years.
Air Astra, which is being funded by a non-resident Bangladeshi from Japan, plans to operate flights on all seven domestic routes, its Chief Executive Officer Imran Asif told The Daily Star yesterday.
"If we can collect at least four aircraft by January, we will be able to operate flights to all the domestic destinations," he said, adding that astra means star in Greek.
The airline is planning to initially run flights with ATR 72-600 aircraft.
As per the rules, the airlines will get permission to operate flights on international routes after operating flights on domestic routes for at least one year.
Air Astra's entry comes at a time when the existing private players are struggling to stay afloat despite a steady increase in people's purchasing power and the spread of economic activities all over the country for regulatory handicaps and the global coronavirus pandemic.
In the last 25 years, at least eight private airlines were forced to cease their operation for cash crunch.
And Regent Airways, one of the three private players, remains grounded since March last year.