British Airways is set to make a return to Dhaka after nearly 11 years. Bangladesh’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has signaled that it is willing to approve flights, clearing the way for a new Heathrow-Dhaka flight. So why is British Airways making a return to Dhaka this year? Let’s find out.
British Airways flew its last service from Dhaka to London on March 29, 2009, opting to exit the market due to low profitability. According to The Daily Star, British Airways told the government that while the route was not viable in 2009, the increase in demand for travel to the UK and connecting traffic to North America has made the route lucrative. Airfreight demand for Bangladeshi exports has also pushed BA’s decision to return to the market.
The airline does have an advantage heading into the market since there are few direct options to London from Bangladesh. The only airline currently operating the route is Biman Bangladesh, which flies a few weekly services from Dhaka to Heathrow. However, the Biman’s service stops in Sylhet on the return leg, adding time to the overall journey.
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787 to make the journey
A report from UK Aviation News says the journey will be flown a British Airways 787-8. More details about frequency and timings will be released once the Bangladesh government formally approves the flights.
The -8 is BA’s smallest widebody aircraft capable of making the 11-hour journey, featuring 214 seats in a three-class configuration. The aircraft features 35 business, 25 premium economy, and 154 economy class seats. While not particularly premium-heavy, the plane is efficient and can meet the cargo and passenger demand for now.
South Asia market heating up
While airlines are scaling back their presence in traditional markets, BA and Virgin Atlantic have expanded South Asia services this year. Virgin announced in August that it is expanding to three routes in Pakistan, adding flights from Islamabad and Lahore. British Airways was quick to follow with its own announcement of new routes to the country.
An analysis by Anna.aero shows that South Asia is home to many high-yield, unserved routes to London. While the EU ban on Pakistan International Airlines this summer likely prompted the current expansion, Dhaka represents a strong opportunity for British carriers.
Dhaka offers a high-yield market comparable to Hyderabad’s (and slightly higher than Lahore) and more opportunities to capture connecting passengers. British Airways will likely capitalize on connections to the US, Canada, and Western Europe with the new route.
The coming weeks will give us more details about the new route to Dhaka. While nothing is certain, British Airways could see strong returns on the route a second time around.
What do you think about British Airways’ new route? Will the airline be successful this time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!