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Pilot, aircraft shortage stop Biman from increasing flights on profitable Dhaka-Toronto route

Pilot, aircraft shortage stop Biman from increasing flights on profitable Dhaka-Toronto route

Photo: Biman Bangladesh

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Currently, Biman operates two flights a week on its Dhaka-Toronto route with an 85% cabin factor

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Ishtiaq Husain

Publisted at 10:22 AM, Tue Jun 11th, 2024

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Biman Bangladesh Airlines has been planning to increase the number of flights on the profitable Dhaka-Toronto route. However, the national flag carrier is unable to implement the plan due to a lack of pilots and aircraft.

Currently, Biman operates two flights a week on its Dhaka-Toronto route with an 85% cabin factor. The cabin factor, also known as the load factor, refers to the percentage of occupied seats on an aircraft in relation to the total available seats. 

It is a crucial metric for airlines as it directly impacts their revenue generation and operational efficiency.

Biman wants to increase its profits and add two more flights due to demand.

An official of Biman said on condition of anonymity, "We did not think that we would do so well on this route. This route is getting a huge response. At the same time, we did not imagine that we could take business from competitors. We would want to run seven flights on this route now.”

He said the cost of operating flights to New York is very high. On the other hand, aeronautical charges and land charges are very low in Canada. Due to this, Biman is able to make unexpected profits on this route.

According to the official, if Biman cannot maintain the superiority of this route, then any other competing airlines can easily capture the market by increasing the number of flights according to the passenger demand. 

Another official said when flights can be operated while maintaining excellence in the route, the amount of profit increases further. Because when passenger satisfaction increases on a route, passengers want to pay more to fly with certain airlines. This increases the amount of profit.

“The route has passengers throughout the year. Moreover, many Bangladeshis living in the United States are coming to Dhaka via Toronto. Passengers include businessmen, migrants, and students. Expats put Biman above Air Canada. Because Air Canada is not attractive to economy-class passengers. Moreover, many Indian passengers are also travelling by air. After half an hour's journey from Dhaka to Kolkata,” said another official.

Biman General Manager (PR) Bosera Islam was contacted for a statement on the matter, but could not provide any comment from Biman's side.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Farooq Khan told Bangladesh First, "We cannot say precisely how soon we will get new aircraft for Biman because there are many things involved. It will take at least two to three years to get the aircraft in hand”.

According to aviation experts, the rule of thumb in the aviation business is to increase profits as much as possible by increasing flights on routes that are more profitable. As part of this strategy, Biman wants to increase more flights on this route. 

The national flag carrier currently has 21 aircraft in its fleet; 16 of them are Boeing airplanes that are used in international routes, the 8 Dash-8s are used for internal routes.

Currently, Biman has 186 pilots, but the airliner needs about 250 pilots. 

Several sources in Biman say that in a short time, Biman has launched flights on the Dhaka-Toronto, Dhaka-Narita and Dhaka-Rome routes – leading to a crisis for aircraft for the company.

Biman has been trying to add more aircraft to its fleet for a long time. Meanwhile, the process of buying four A350 aircraft from Airbus is well advanced. The evaluation committee has given a positive report in this regard. On the other hand, Boeing has offered to sell Dreamliner 787-900 aircraft.

Experts say that even though the process of buying Airbus aircraft is far advanced, it will take at least two to three years to get the aircraft from there. It will take about the same time to get Boeing aircraft. But in this case, Boeing is slightly ahead. That's because, Boeing says, sometimes airlines cancel aircraft orders at the last minute before taking delivery. Under such circumstances, the company can deliver aircraft sooner.

Earlier, Biman had received two Dreamliners within a short period. 

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