Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national carrier, is being slow in taking advantage of the aviation market growth. “What usually happens is that home airlines take 40 to 50 per cent of the passengers, while the rest of the passengers use foreign airlines. But Biman Bangladesh is not being able to take advantage of the growth,” said Sheel Shukla, senior sales director of Airbus. He made this observation while speaking to visiting Bangladeshi reporters recently at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France.
“If you have a long-term plan, Bangladesh can earn millions of dollars,” he added. Airbus predicts that by 2037, Bangladesh will need 150 aircraft to carry passengers. Of them, 82 would be small carriers, which were only 27 in 2017.
Sources said eight million Bangladeshis last year used Shahjalal International Airport to travel abroad, of whom only 2.6 million passengers availed Biman Bangladesh Airlines. An aviation official said some foreign carriers like Emirates was taking full advantage by operating three flights daily from Dhaka, carrying more than 1,000 passengers.
Sheel Shukla told the reporters: “As per our study, Biman Bangladesh has a huge prospect as Bangladesh"s aviation market will grow in the future.”
“If Bangladesh wants, we can extend our business cooperation to Biman Bangladesh. We have the most efficient aircraft like the A320,” he added.
Biman Bangladesh has only 13 aircraft right now. Of them,10 are Boeings. But it does not use any Airbus aircraft.
“We have recently done some market study. We see we have to expend with the speed of aviation growth. In line with the study, we are trying to fix the next destinations for the next 10 years,” Sakil Miraj, spokesperson of Biman Bangladesh, told The Independent last week.
“In the next phases, we will deploy efficient aircraft like Airbus A320,” he said.
In terms of the gross order intake, Airbus has been the largest aircraft manufacturer in eight out of the last 10 years up to December 31, 2018. As per its disclosure, Airbus received 19,266 orders and delivered 11,851 aircraft till that time. Last year, the aircraft maker"s revenue was 41 billion euros.
"The air traffic market of Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing in the world," said Sakil Miraj.
Airbus has modern and up-to-date aircraft to meet the needs of a growing market like Bangladesh, he added.
He said the country"s air freight market was growing at 12 per cent per annum in terms of value. High-value exports are suitable for air freight, he added.
Aviation experts say foreign carriers are taking around 60 to 70 per cent of Bangladesh"s aviation business, while the national carrier is running on losses for the last few months.