Biman seeks foreign crew and maintenance for NY flight

Foreign_Aircrew_PilotAviation News: Biman, Bangladesh Airlines is looking for crew, maintenance and insurance cover for its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from a catagory-1 country to resume its Dhaka- New York flight.

The airlines floated RFP (request for Proposal) for CMI (Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) partner last week for operating two of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to the USA.

“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 Chairman Jamal Uddin Ahmed told BSS today.

The Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAA,B), so far, would not get category- 1 approval from FAA as it could not address some compliance issues. So, any aircraft registered from CAA,B will not find entry into US airspace. A country must have a Category-1 rating from the FAA, if it intends to operate flight to the US.

As per the FAA criteria, Biman can resume the NY flight with aircraft on wet lease basis 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.

Biman’s officials said the New York flight will not be profitable anyway, if it operates under wet lease agreement. So the national flag carrier is 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,” Biman’s chairman said.

Jamal Uddin Ahmed said, Biman has already conducted an in-house feasibility study and found that the Dhaka-New York flight would be financially viable, if it gets good CMI offer. The fate of New York flight depends on how much good offer Biman will get from the bidders under the RFP of CMI, he added.

Biman chairman hoped that if the CMI agreement works, Biman can resume Dhaka-New York flight in the summer of 2015. “After getting the offers from the RFP, we will do cost per seat calculation. Then, we can say whether the NY flight will be profitable or not,” Jamal Uddin said.

The flight to New York was suspended in July 2006 as the flight was in the red and the airlines had acute shortage of aircraft.

The resumption of this flight is one of the major political commitments of the present government.

The CAAB 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 CAAB 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.

– Tanzim Anwar

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