Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the flag carrier of Bangladesh, is applying for a foreign air carrier permit with the United States (US) Department of Transportation (DOT), as the airline aims to resume direct flights to the US.
In the filing, the Bangladeshi airline disclosed that it wants to return to the US market, which it last served in 2018 until its foreign air carrier permit expired. However, Bangladesh has been designated a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 2 country since 2010, meaning that the carrier had to wet-lease aircraft from an airline based in a Category 1 country until it ceased flying to the US in 2018.
The filing was first reported by PaxEx.Aero’s Seth Miller.
At the time, it wet leased a pair of EgyptAir Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, then registered as S2-AHL and S2-AHK, according to ch-aviation.com data. The two wide-body jets exited the airline’s fleet in January and July 2018, respectively.
“Biman now believes that Bangladesh’s Category 2 status will be upgraded to Category 1 soon after the FAA and Bangladesh’s [Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB)] continue their joint work,” the airline’s filing with the DOT read.
The filing added that if the country is upgraded to Category 1, “Biman would be able to operate its own aircraft on flights to the US, assuming DOT approves Biman’s request for Exemption Authority which is being filed contemporaneously with this Application for Foreign Air Carrier Permit”.
The airline argued that its planned flights between “Dhaka and New York, and Newark, New Jersey” are in the interest of the public, benefiting both citizens of Bangladesh and the US, as there are currently no active direct flights between the two countries.
Direct flights between Bangladesh and the US
As such, the airline aims to establish a fifth-freedom route between Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (DAC) and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) via Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB), Turkey.
According to the Great Circle Mapper’s calculations, a direct flight between DAC and JFK is 6,847 nautical miles (12,681 kilometers), while the total distance from DAC to JFK via ADB is 7,707 nmi (14,274 km), averaging 3,854 nm (7,137 km) per sector.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines plans to operate five weekly flights on the route, utilizing its Boeing 787-8 or 787-9 on the routes.
Going forward, the Bangladeshi carrier would like to fly to Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, DC, and Newark, the US, using Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Rome, Italy, Brussels, Belgium, Manchester or Birmingham, the United Kingdom (UK), Istanbul or Izmir, Turkey, New Delhi, India, or Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as a connecting point.
“However, Biman specifically requests that no formal decision be issued by DOT until the FAA formally upgrades Bangladesh to Category 1 status so that Biman can use its own aircraft in the requested operations,” the airline said in the filing.
In its estimates, based on July 23 prices and fuel, as well as exchange rates, Biman Bangladesh Airlines assumed an average load factor of 80% on the route to JFK. The weekly revenues from the route, including cargo and excess baggage income, would be $2.1 million, while the total cost, including direct and indirect expenses, would be $3.1 million.
As a result, the airline is willing to lose $1.023 million per week to operate flights between DAC and JFK via ADB, utilizing a Boeing 787-9. Annually, the airline’s route to JFK would be $53.2 million in the red.
When it last flew from DAC to New York in 2005/2006, it operated 79 flights, carrying a total of 11,455 passengers (145 on average), including flights from New York to Brussels Airport (BRU), Belgium, a table included in the filing showed.
Now, as per its own assumptions, it expects an average of 191 passengers per leg to fly on the route to JFK.