Biman NY flights will not resume this year

Biman Bangladesh Airlines will not fly to New York any time soon, despite the government’s promise.

Published : 13 April 2015, 05:32 AM
Updated : 13 April 2015, 05:55 AM

Direct flights from Dhaka to New York are unlikely to prove profitable in the long term, said Managing Director Kyle Haywood in a recent press briefing.  

“Aircraft use, fuel and manpower needed for these flights will not be profitable for Biman,” said the Briton, who took charge early this year.  

Biman, as a state-owned airline, has the responsibility to connect key cities, he said. 

“But it’s also my job to make Biman profitable. My opinion is based on that perspective.” 

Operating flights to the US requires a country to have ‘Category 1’ rating from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

Security is usually the top priority. Bangladesh has been awaiting that upgrade. 

Biman stopped flying to New York in 1996 after the FAA slapped a ban on Bangladesh in the absence of the rating. 

On August 2013, Bangladesh signed an open-sky agreement with the US to resume flights to New York and was granted ‘fifth freedom’ – meaning permission to take transit in a third country while en route to another destination. 

If the return route includes a transit it is called sixth freedom.

The current year will end before the Civil Aviation Authorities, Bangladesh (CAAB) and FAA reach a final decision, he said.

“It will be our duty to implement if the government makes a decision.” 

The government has made several promises to resume Biman flights to New York, a city inhabited by large number of expatriates. 

But aviation experts in Bangladesh have been opposing the move, saying it will add to the national flag carrier’s losses. 

The New York route will do ‘average’ for the first six months, not in the long run, said Haywood. 

Biman’s loss amounted to Tk 2.54 billion in the preliminary estimates of the 2013-14 fiscal. The airline posted profit only four times in 18 years.

Biman’s 12-strong fleet now has six Boeing 777 aircraft, suitable for long-routes. They are used to operate flights to cities in the Middle East, all profitable destinations.

Haywood’s predecessor Kevin Steele had announced last year that New York flights would resume from June after a 18-year lapse.

Ticket sale would start from February 2014, he had said. 

The two Boeing 777 that were brought on a five-year lease from Egypt to start the New York route were still part of Biman’s fleet.