Biman now has the best of fleet, but no proper route network to use
- Raquib Siddiqi01 Sep, 2019 | 1240 Views|-+
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seen enjoying the comfort of the newly inducted state-of-the-art B787-8 Dreamliner named Gaangchil on August 22 at HSJIA in Dhaka
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seen inspecting the cabin of the newly inducted B787-8 Dreamliner named Gaangchil, among others
Dhaka : Nearly 48-old, Bi-man Bangladesh Airlines Limited-that suffered decades due to unreliable fleet - now has the best modern fleet. But, with drastically reduced current poor route net, it cannot utilise the fleet properly.
Not long ago, the operation of the national flag carrier, expanded to 28 international destinations in four continents - Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. Now its route net has drastically shrunk - flying only to 15 destinations, all in close by Asia, except London.
With practically no long route, barring London - the situation is causing serious problem in using long haul modern aircraft like Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 777-300ERs. Immediate change in situation is not in sight.
With the formal induction of "Gaangchil' - the third Boeing 787-8, to the fleet by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on August 22 and scheduled delivery of the 4th Boeing 787-8 within about another month, problem concerning proper utilisation of capacity, will be further enhanced. Biman now has no alternative to use the long-range aircraft on short haul improper routes.
Terming Bangladesh Biman as a 'symbol of independence', Sheikh Hasina asked authorities of the national flag carrier to enhance its reputation by improving passenger services further.
"It's a responsibility of all involved in operating the national flag carrier to retain and increase reputation of Biman by further raising its passenger services," she said.
In her speech on the occasion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said "In 2009 we found Biman in a deplorable condition with old aircraft, disrupted schedule and with endless complains. To overcome this situation, present government has strategised and taken proactive steps to overcome these challenges."
"We advised Biman Board to develop an airline with international standards, rest is history. We made a contract with Boeing to procure 10 new aircraft. We took initiatives to overcome all the challenges and already received Arun Alo, Akash Ranga Pravat, Meghdoot, Mayurpankhi, Akashbeena and Hansa Balaka", the Prime Minister added.
Sheikh Hasina said the induction of the third Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner into the Biman fleet would enhance its capacity to operate flights to new destinations. Her government wants Biman to operate flights on Dhaka-New York route with the Dreamliners, she added.
"Now we can't operate flights to the USA, but we hope we will be able to solve the problem soon. Our Dreamliners have the capacity to fly directly to JFK Airport (in New York), the PM said and added that efforts are on to further increase the frequencies of Biman flights on Dhaka-London route.
The national carrier was also trying to introduce flights on new routes to connect more countries with a view to improve passenger services, she added.
Hasina said her government gives special attention to modernising Biman Bangladesh Airlines. She described various steps taken for Biman's development.
She said Bangladesh used to borrow money from foreign sources for Biman, but the government has now decided to procure aircraft taking loan from local banks. "Thus we are making our efforts and moving forward step by step."
Mentioning that the government would buy more aircraft to enhance Biman's capacity, the PM said the government already decided to procure two cargo planes to boost export and import.
She elaborated her government's initiatives for the development of the country's airports. She said the previous Awami League government had made Chattogram and Sylhet airports international after assuming power in 1996.
She said the government is constructing an international airport in Cox's Bazar for the development of tourism and exploit tourist attractions.
Hasina commissioned Gaangchil by cutting a ribbon at the Dhaka airport around 11:30 am. She also boarded and inspected the plane.
Md Mahbub Ali, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Md Mohibul Haque, Secretary for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Air Marshal (retd) Muhammad Enamul Bari, Chairman of the Biman's Board of Directors and Farhat Hassan Jamil, Managing Director and CEO of Biman, among others, spoke at the event.
Ministers, advisers, parliament members, the chiefs of three services, dignitaries and high civil and military officials were present at the function. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller was also present at the ceremony.
Welcoming the guests, Captain Farhat Hasan Jamil, Managing Director and CEO of Biman termed Boeing 787-8 as a unique aircraft and said with it Biman has been able to improve passenger services. He disclosed that route expansion of the airline is now under process.
Mohammad Mohibul Huq, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism said about initiatives to improve operation and services of Biman. "We are working to remove the negative image of Biman and Biman is slowly moving forward with improvement".
Air Marshall Enamul Bari, Chairman of Biman's Board of Directors said, "As the national carrier, Biman has limitations, but gradually this will go soon".
He said Biman now has a fleet of 15 aircraft - nine own and six leased. To meet the growing market demand, three Dash-8 aircraft will join fleet of Biman soon, he added.
Md. Mahbub Ali, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism said that with the development of the national economy, Biman is also growing.
Immediately after the independence, Biman Bangladesh Airlines started its journey on January 4, 1972 with a DC-3 aircraft. After procuring two F-27s, Biman finally took-off on March 7, 1972 with domestic flights to Chattogram and Sylhet from its base at Dhaka.
Shortly after, a Boeing 707 aircraft joined the airline's fleet, allowing Biman to begin international flights. By end of the 70s, Biman had a fleet of 8 F27 and 5 Boeing 707 to serve domestic and international destinations.
The 80s was the new era of building Biman fleet with new Fokker 28-4000 in 1981, wide-bodied three DC10-30s joined in 1983, one new DC10-30 joined in 1989. In early 1990, Biman phased out its aging F27 and purchased two new ATPs to serve domestic and some regional destinations. In 1996 Biman also purchased two new Airbus 310-300 from Airbus Company and phased out its ATPs in 2004.
In order to modernise Biman fleet with new generation aircraft, Biman signed two agreements with Boeing in April and May 2008 for purchasing new generation 4 X 777-300ER, 4 X 787-8 and 2 X 737-800 aircraft.
Four 777-300ER aircraft joined Biman fleet in October/November 2011, February 2014 and March 21, 2014. Two 737-800s aircraft joined Biman fleet in November/December 2015 and Three 787-8 aircraft joined Biman fleet in August/December 2018 and July 2019.
Another one new 787-8 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by Boeing in September 2019. On May 16, 2019, 5th Boeing 737-800 arrives to join Biman fleet. 6th Boeing 737-800 arrives to join Biman fleet in June 30, 2019. Currently Biman is operating 07 domestic and 16 international destinations. Biman is in a bid to operate more domestic destinations, as such procuring two Turbo-Prop aircraft.
Biman phased out vintage F28 and DC10-30 aircraft from its fleet as a part of fleet modernisation.
The composition of existing fleet of Biman is as follows: Three 247 - seat Boeing 787-8s; Four 384-seat Boeing 777-300ERs; Six 150-seat Boeing 737-800s and Three 74-seat DASH-8s.