Biman to double Kolkata-Dhaka flights
Dubai: Biman, the flag carrier of Bangladesh, will double the number its flights on the Kolkata-Dhaka sector and also connect the Indian metropolis with its port city of Chittagong from November using small planes, a top official of the airline has said. “We are keen to increase our connectivity with India and use up the bilateral rights. But we don’t have enough planes. So, when I get the delivery of two turboprop jets, which are expected soon, we will connect Dhaka and Chittagong with Kolkata. This should happen by November,” Biman Managing Director and Chief Executive Kevin John Steele told PTI here.
Steele, who was in Dubai to receive the ‘Asia’s most promising brands’ award, instituted by the World Consumer Research Corporation (WCRC), said he would also double the existing capacity to Kolkata from Dhaka apart from connecting it with Chittagong. Biman flies five times a week to Kolkata and twice to New Delhi from Dhaka. The WCRC celebrated as many as 200 brands, picked from 5,000 entries. Though named Asia’s most promising brands, the entries in the first round were only from India, which dominated the list, and a few from Bangladesh and Dubai/UAE. Even all the UAE/Dubai brands were also owned by NRIs.
Steele said Biman, launched a year after the independence of the country in 1972 and operates with eight aircraft, now connects 11 international routes. It has already ordered 10 more wide bodied aircraft to replace its aging Airbus and B-777 fleet. He also said Biman is looking at leasing more Boeing and Airbus planes. Steele ruled out increasing the frequency between New Delhi-Dhaka saying he doesn’t have planes.
The official however, said he will be more than doubling his fleet size in the next two years to 18 from the present eight planes. Sounding bullish on the aviation business, despite the recent flare-up in oil prices, Steele said, he expects the airline to break even by next year and to be profitable by 2014-15. He also said the airline is likely to close the year with a loss of $25 million, down from $50 million last year.