Biman Bangladesh Airlines announced on Saturday that they were making attempts to resume their Dhaka-New York service. The plan would essentially be a fifth-freedom route between Manchester and New York, making it a Dhaka-Manchester-New York service. The attempt is being made even though the airline acknowledges profit will be marginal.
At a press conference celebrating the airline’s 49th anniversary, this is what the airline’s leadership had to say:
“There will be marginal profit even if three flights can be operated in a week on Dhaka-New York route… We are hopeful because we have modern aircraft. Frequent flyers put priority over the aircraft quality nowadays” -Mokabbir Hossain, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Biman
Launching Dhaka to Manchester
According to New Age Bangladesh, the airline (very) recently launched a 3x weekly Dhaka-Manchester service. In fact, the inaugural service, with 269 passengers on board a brand-new Boeing 787-9 took off earlier today. Biman ordered two 787-9 jets late last year in November.
Flying between Dhaka and Manchester isn’t new. In fact, it has been more than seven years since the route was closed. The Dhaka-Manchester route was closed in September 2012 due to a shortage of aircraft.
The Daily Star reports that Biman will operate the flight to Manchester every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The major city, located in northwest England, is home to 90,000 Bangladeshis.
Hossain said that the US aviation authorities would need to first visit Dhaka and inspect the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport before approving the service. Apparently, the airline is already looking into getting approval: ‘They have a small [inspection] team and it is difficult to get their schedule,’ said Mokabbir.
High hopes for distant destinations
Biman is also looking to operate a Dhaka-Guangzhou service. However, this plan is being delayed – apparently by Chinese authorities. New Age reports that Guangzhou provincial authorities have been slow to give permission. This is despite the Chinese government approving the plan at the federal level. Biman’s CEO says that Chinese authorities will visit Dhaka for facility inspections around January 15th – once Chinese government funding comes through.
Reports also note that Biman has plans to operate an additional fifth-freedom service to Toronto via Manchester.
This is certainly an ambitious plan – especially amidst rumors that British Airways may also fly long-haul routes out of Manchester, while Virgin Atlantic already has a handful. The Manchester-New York route would suddenly have a lot more competition! However, it’s possible that some travelers – Bangladesh nationals perhaps – would be more loyal to their national airline.
Do you think US authorities will approve this service and allow Biman to fly to New York? And will it even be marginally profitable as they expect? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!