Tanzim Anwar : BSS – Chairman of Biman Jamal Uddin Ahmed has clearly said that it would not be possible to resume Dhaka-New York flight before next summer although immediate past CEO Kevin Steel had declared that the airlines would fly to America continent in summer this year (current year).
“I am a practical man, it would not be wise to resume the flight before June next year, we cannot operate only the flight. we have to make it profitable . at least it has to be breakeven,” he told BSS here today in an exclusive interview.
Dhaka-New York flight was suspended in July 2006 as the flight was in the red and the airlines had acute shortage of equipment. The resumption of this flight is one of the major political commitments of the present government.
“Though we are not allowed to fly in American air space as our own registered aircraft are falling under category 2 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), we are looking for some other ways to resume the flight,” Biman’s Board chief said.
Jamal Uddin, an Air Marshal and former Chief of Air Staff, said that earlier Kevin had planned to resume the New York flight this summer by taking aircraft on wet lease from Egypt, a category 1 country on the list of FAA. “But we have observed that operating New York flight by aircraft on wet lease will not be
financially viable. That is why we have cancelled the plan, and knowing sure loss we cannot go for such operation,” he said.
As per the FAA criteria, there will be no problem to start the NY flight, if Biman gets the aircraft on wet lease from a category 1 country. But it won’t be possible, if it is taken on dry lease.
A wet lease is an arrangement whereby the lessor provides aircraft under ACMI (aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance) system while under dry lease arrangement the lessor provides only the aircraft.
The Biman chairman said that they are now looking for acquiring aircraft under a different kind of lease arrangement called CMI (complete crew, maintenance, and insurance). “Under the CMI, we can operate flight with our own aircraft but crew, maintenance, and insurance will be provided by a category 1 country,” he said.
He said Biman had earlier floated a RFP (Request for Proposal) for making a CMI lease agreement for the NY flight, but got dissimilar offers from the bidders. Now Biman board has decided to float another RFP soon with proper specifications to get CMI offers from the bidders, he said.
“We have already conducted an in-house feasibility study and found that the Dhaka-New York flight would be financially viable, if we get good CMI offer,” he said adding that the fate of NY flight depends on how much good offer Biman will get from the bidders under the RFP of CMI.
“After getting the offers from the RFP, we will do the final financial evaluation cost per seat calculation. Then, we can say whether the flight will be profitable or not,” Jamal Uddin said. As Biman has to float fresh RFP for getting CMI, it would not be possible to resume the flight this summer, he said adding
that the flight can’t be resumed in winter as it is an off season for the airlines. Moreover, we are planning to operate this year’s hajj flights with our own aircraft, he added.
In this backdrop, the Biman Chairman said “I think it won’t be possible to resume the Dhaka -New York flight before June next year even if everything goes smoothly.”
The Civil Aviation authority (CAA), Bangladesh, so far, would not get FAA category 1 approval from FAA as it could not address some compliance issues. So, any aircraft registered from CAA, B will not get entry into US airspace. A country must have a Category-1 rating from the FAA, if it intends to operate flight
to the US.
The CAA,B has been working hard to get category 1 status. So far several delegations of the FAA visited Bangladesh to see for themselves the progress of compliance issues. The CAA,B is hopeful of having the grade of category 1 soon.
On Aug 17 last year, Bangladesh signed an open sky agreement with the United States to resume flight to New York.