Biman getting two Dreamliners soon, but no marked change expected

- A Monitor Special 01 Aug, 2018
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AM Mosaddique Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO, Biman Bangladesh Airlines _Photo : Monitor
Dhaka : Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited is going to get two Boeing B787 Dreamliners soon. But no marked change in the existing situation is expected even after that.

"Capacity is not going to increase. So, we don't have additional plans at this moment," said AM Mosaddique Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO of Biman.

Talking to The Bangladesh Monitor at his office recently, Mossaddique explained reason for no capacity increa-se. Two-leased B777 are already out of the fleet for refurbishing, before return to lessor. According to lease agreement, aircraft have to be returned in the condition when these were leased. The capacity of Boeing B777 aircraft is significantly higher than the Dreamliners.

For the time being Biman will continue with existing routes. "We'll go for expansion when all four Dreamliners and two Boeing B737-800s join the fleet", he said.

The first Dreamliner, “Akashbeena,” which was displayed at Farnborough Air Show recently is expected to be delivered by Boeing to Biman on August 20. The second Dreamilner will arrive in September this year. The other two Dreamliners will be delivered in September 2019.

Like "Akashbeena," the other Dreamliners were also named by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as "Hansa-balaka," "Gangchil" and "Rajhansa."

Air show

Meanwhile, arriving from Seattle factory of Boeing, "Akashbeena," the first of four Boeing B787 of Biman, took part in the flying display at Farnborough Air Show 2018 on July 17 afternoon. The Chief Test Pilot of Boeing flew the aircraft over the venue for about 15 minutes.

This was a first for any aircraft of Bangladesh to be at the show. Flying display over, the aircraft headed for Seattle for delivery to the airline on August 20.

In 2008, Biman had signed an agreement to purchase 10 aircrafts worth US$ 2.1 billion. Four Boeing B777-300ER and two B737-800s have already joined the fleet. Delivery of four B787s will start next month.

The 271-seat Dreamliners have 24 seats in Business Class and 247 in Economy Class. The Business Class seats can recline 180 degrees.

The breakthrough capabilities and innovations have made B787s popular with operators and passengers. The 185 feet long aircraft can fly 16 hours non-stop and consumes 20 per cent less aviation fuel.

Besides, mood lights, bigger and dimmable windows and Wi-Fi, inflight entertainment facilities include nine live streaming channels of BBC, CNN, music, sports channels, while the youngsters will be able to play video games, specially made for Biman.

Meanwhile, 14 pilots and 112 ground engineers and technicians have been trained in Singapore for flying and maintenance of the 56 feet tall, 117,617 kg weight Dreamliners, Biman officials said

Expansion plan

The first of the Dreamliners will serve Dhaka-Singapore and Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur routes. Tickets on the four-hour flights are already on sale.

One of the two Boeing B737-800s- to be taken on lease for six years -will join the fleet in December. The airline plans to operate to three new destinations-Guangzhou, Colombo and Gan (The Maldives) with the aircraft.

A Bombardier DASH8-Q400s will join the fleet in September, which will help boost domestic services. When another two DASH8-Q400s arrive, the present two will go away, he said.

As London Heathrow slots have not been used for a long time, Biman is planning to fly Dreamliners from Osmani International Airport, Sylhet.

But for that Sylhet airport's runway length has to be extended and its security upgraded and cleared by Department for Transport (DfT), UK, as they had done at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

"London Heathrow authority wants us back. So they suggested originating the flights from a new destination, like Sylhet. I don't think extension of the runway and getting security clearance (from DfT) would be a problem, Mosaddique added.

Biman had New York and Toronto flights in mind when it had ordered the Dreamliners. "We have taken all-out efforts to resume New York flights but we'll have to wait till CAAB is elevated to Category 1", said a source requesting anonymity. But now it plans to use the aircraft for flights to Tokyo, Rome, Manchester and Sydney.