Saturday, February 05, 2011

Biman suspends London flights for Aircraft shortage.

Shortage of aircraft has forced Biman Bangladesh Airlines to suspend its direct flights to London indefinitely from Thursday.
Biman authorities are still unsure when they can resume direct flights on the popular route.
The flights had to be called off after Biman's agreement with the Euro Atlantic Airways on lease of a Boeing aircraft expired on February 3.
Biman had resumed direct flight on the Dhaka-London route on February 6 last year after a break of 12 years.
The authorities said their five other London-bound flights via Dubai every week will remain operational. Of those, two flights will be operated on the Dhaka-Sylhet-Dubai-London route, Biman said yesterday.
Biman officials hope to resume direct flights on the route in April with the inclusion of two Boeing aircraft to the airline's existing fleet.
They said the national carrier signed an agreement with the Euro Atlantic Airways in November 2009 to hire two Boeing aircraft for four years.
Biman received one aircraft from the airline on February 3 last year on one-year wet lease, which means the lessee must bear the costs of the aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance, followed by a three-year dry lease.
Biman later scrapped the deal with the company that failed to provide the national carrier with the second aircraft on time.
Biman Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Muhammad Zakiul Islam said, “We had an option to use the aircraft on dry lease. But we could not do so for a hefty registration fee.”
Biman has entered into another agreement with the Pacific Aircraft Lease Management, USA to get two aircraft under the Aircraft Crew Maintenance and Insurance, Biman officials said.
The airline also published advertisement for leasing two Boeing aircraft to resume direct flights to New York, which were suspended in 2006 due to shortage of aircraft.
Biman had earlier announced that it would resume direct flights to New York by 2010, but failed to do so.
Two Boeing aircraft are expected to be added to Biman's fleet in October and November in line with an agreement with the Boeing Aircraft Company on purchase of ten aircraft, said Biman.
The national carrier now has a fleet of 11 aircraft flying to 19 international destinations.
Wishing anonymity, a Biman official said the airline had been running the Dhaka-London direct flight at a loss.
Kazi Wahidul Alam, editor of Aviation and Tourism Fortnightly, said it is very unlikely that Biman incurred loss on the route, which is immensely popular.


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