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Biman may suspend flights on four int’l routes

Hajj flight operation

FE Report | June 06, 2018 00:00:00

The Biman Bangladesh Airlines (BBA) may suspend flight operation on four international routes during this Hajj season, a source said on Tuesday.

The four international routes connect the country with Kuwait, Doha, Dammam and Riyadh.

The passengers who want to take these air routes will either have to travel by planes of other airlines or defer their travel schedule.

Besides, the Biman plans to cut flights on few other international routes, the source added.

The decision was already conveyed to the marketing and sales department of the Biman, the source said.

It means that the department should stop selling air tickets due to a shortage of aircraft during the Hajj season, he said preferring not to be named.

"Biman is facing multifarious problems for its failure to lease aircraft in time," he added.

The BBA has plans to carry passengers to international destinations such as Dubai and Kuala Lumpur with 162-seater aircraft instead of the previous 419-seater or 406-seater during the Hajj season.

But officials concerned denied that the Biman authority decided to cut flight operations due to any aircraft shortage.

Rather they claimed that the flow of passengers declines on these routes during the Hajj season.

That's why these four international routes may be up for consideration for cutting flight operations, a Biman official told the FE, seeking anonymity.

Biman earlier denied the failure to lease aircraft for smooth operation of flights on regular international routes during the Hajj season.

It said that it was going to lease two aircraft for three months within the scheduled time (before July 14).

Later, Biman announced that it would be able to receive a Dash-8 by August this year for the domestic routes. It will reduce pressure on 737NG.

Biman now operates flights on 15 international and seven domestic routes with 12 aircraft.

It operates two Dash-8 aircraft on domestic routes and 10 aircraft on 15 international routes.

But this year Biman has three dedicated 777-300 ERs and one 777-300 ER, brought under lease deals, for operating Hajj flights.

It has kept one 777-300 ER dedicated for a distant route like that to London.

Biman brought one 777-300 ER and one 777-200 ER from the Fly Global of Malaysia on a wet lease basis to operate regular flights.

As Fly Global has a shortage of pilots, Biman is facing trouble with these two aircraft.

On the other hand, Biman has an adequate number of pilots to fly 777-300 ER or 777-200 ER.

But it cannot engage their pilots without permission from the civil aviation authority of Malaysia, Biman sources said.

A major portion of revenue of Biman comes from sales of international tickets. It is 65 per cent of total revenue.

By operating Hajj flights, Biman earns 15 per cent of its revenue.

But every year Biman loses revenue from regular routes due to irregularities in leasing aircraft.

The national flag carrier was supposed to bring two Boeing 777-300s under a short-term wet lease from Fly Global of Malaysia in February.

Under the lease, it was supposed to get aircraft along with crew.

A total of 127,198 pilgrims will perform Hajj under government and private arrangements this year.

Of them, the Biman will carry 63,599 pilgrims.

As per the schedule of Biman, it will operate 155 flights. Of the total flights, 147 will be operated to Jeddah and eight to Madina.

The pre-Hajj flights will start on July 14 and continue until August 15.

The return Hajj flights will start on August 27 and continue until September 25.


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