Biman Bangladesh Airlines considers suspending domestic routes

Biman Bangladesh Airlines may suspend operations on all domestic routes, except Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Chittagong, as part of its turnaround plan, which focuses on rebuilding its international network. Services to Sylhet and Chittagong may be retained keeping in mind the needs of a large expatriate population.

According to members of Biman's Fleet Committee, the country's flag carrier would like to exit the saturated and small domestic market and focus instead on its core business, which is operating international flights.

Biman currently operates services to 19 international destinations with a fleet of 12 aircraft, of which, only eight are currently in service.

For the carrier, the situation is set to change with its latest aircraft order, which will allow it to resume operations on its profitable international routes. Over the year, aircraft shortages have forced Biman to discontinue, or reduce frequency, on many of its international services.

Meanwhile, several local players are expected to launch operations this year, with the government expected to deregulate the domestic market for private airlines. These players include United Airways, Best Air, Royal Bengal and A2Air.

Biman has reported a $100 million net loss for the 12 month period ended 30 June 2007, mainly on the back of rising fuel prices and weak passenger demand.

Since then the government has launched an emergency rescue plan, which includes transforming the carrier as a public company in July 2007, and also retrenching a large number of staff.