Biman’s bid to appoint aircraft procurement agency hits snag

Biman Bangladesh Airlines’ move to appoint a reputed international agency for assisting it in sourcing a variety of aircraft faces a setback as it did not yet get any acceptable response.

The last date for submission of tender paper was April 24, 2014, but sources confirmed that the response has not been satisfactory at all, reports UNB.

“Biman has floated offer several times in this regard, but is yet to get any considerable response,” a well-placed source at Biman told UNB.

bimanCurrently, the national flag carrier has no small aircraft for operating flights on domestic routes.

In a bid to expand its fleet and wings, Biman, now operating to two domestic and 18 international destinations, had decided to appoint a reputed international agency for assisting Biman in sourcing a variety of aircraft for both domestic and international routes for its ambitious expansion plan over the coming years.

The aircraft procurement agency, to be appointed by the national flag carrier, was supposed to supply various aircraft from time to time.

Currently, Biman has four 777-300ERs, two 737-800s, one 777-200ER and two A310-300s in its fleet.

Meanwhile, Biman has decided to resume its domestic flights on different routes at the year end.

Keeping that view in mind, Biman had decided to procure or take on lease some small aircraft such as turboprop ones as these are suitable for operating on domestic routes. It has planned to regain its share on the domestic market as well as international routes.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon several times in Parliament and other functions expressed his ministry’s determination to resume Biman’s domestic flights.

According to sources, the government has already taken steps to renovate the country’s five airports — Dhaka-Rajshahi, Dhaka- Saidpur, Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar, Dhaka-Jessore and Dhaka-Barisal.

The national flag carrier suspended all of its domestic flights from 2002 to 2012 due to huge losses and lack of aircraft. Later, it resumed domestic flights on a limited number of routes, including Dhaka-Chittagong-Dhaka and Dhaka-Sylhet-Dhaka.

Biman is now operating about 30 flights a week on its domestic routes with wide-bodied aircraft through its connecting flights in operation on international routes. But such operation is reducing the lifetime of the big aircraft, according to aviation experts.

Biman now operates 11 flights on Dhaka-Chittagong, 14 flights on Chittagong-Dhaka and 5 flights on Sylhet-Dhaka routes.

Recently, Biman received new Boeing 777-300 extended range, ‘Raanga Pravat’.

It is the fourth Boeing 777 that joined the national carrier’s fleet as part of the government’s 2008 deal for 10 new aircraft with Boeing. The US-based plane maker is to deliver two 737s and four Dreamliner 787s by 2020.

Boeing will hand over the two 737-800 aircraft by November and December 2015, and the pre-delivery payments for the two aircraft have already been made.

On the possible handover of four more 787-8 aircrafts from Boeing by 2019 and 2020, a request has already been made to Boeing to make the deliveries by 2015-16. Boeing has sent some proposals which the Biman management is scrutinizing, according to the sources.

In its bid to modernise Biman fleet with new generation aircraft, Biman signed two agreements with Boeing in April and May 2008 for procuring new generation four 777-300ERs and 787-8s and two 737-800s.

Four 777-300ER aircraft already joined the Biman fleet. Besides, two 737-800s and four new 787-8s are scheduled to be delivered by Boeing in November/December 2015 and 2019-2020.