Vol. 5 Num 772 Sat. July 29, 2006  
Front Page

Biman makes its last flight to NY today

In an effort to end incurring perennial financial losses Biman Bangladesh Airlines will make its last flight to New York today amid protests from Bangladeshi expatriates in New York and Biman officials.

With 272 passengers, flight BG-011 is scheduled to fly for New York through Dhaka-Dubai-Brussels-New York route at 8:00am today.

The same flight will fly for Dhaka from John F Kennedy Airport through NY-Brussels-Dhaka route with 153 passengers from New York and 32 from Brussels, said Biman Operations, adding that the flight is expected to land at Zia International Airport at 3:15am on Sunday.

The national flag carrier early this year decided to suspend all New York flights from June against the backdrop of a huge financial loss.

Sources in Biman yesterday said it incurs a loss of Tk 52 lakh in each NY flight.

Biman's New York flight is considered the costliest but most prestigious of all its international flights. But the flight appears to be an increasing burden on the state-run airline as it is already struggling to buy fuel and new generation aircraft because of financial constraints.

Due to pressure from various quarters, Biman had decided to continue the flights for two more months and cut down the number of its flights to NY from twice a week to only once on Sundays. The extension ends today. Although the third Sunday of the month was supposed to see the third weekly flight to NY, today's flight is only the second in the month and the last on this route.

In April, Biman rerouted its flight through Manchester, UK dropping Brussels as a stopover from its Dhaka-Dubai-Brussels-New York route, but the route continued for no more than a week, said Biman sources.

Meanwhile, agitation grew within the Bangladeshi community in New York after Biman had decided to cut off all its flights to New York in 13 years since its inception in 1993, reports a New York-based news agency ENA.

A group of Bangladeshi expatriates, meantime, flew to Dhaka and met the prime minister urging her not to cut off the flights, and expected that Biman would purchase new aircraft to continue the flights, said Biman sources, but nothing came through.

During the previous Awami League rule, the New York flight used to operate on Dhaka-Delhi-Brussels-New York route incurring a loss of Tk 50 lakh per flight. Mir Nasir, former state minister for tourism and civil aviation, rerouted the flight through Dubai instead of Delhi and as a result Biman's operational loss on this route came down to Tk 22 lakh per flight but increases in the price of jet fuel raised the loss to Tk 35 lakh in April. The loss currently stands at Tk 52 lakh per flight.

Three-decade old DC-10s in Biman's 13-strong fleet, which usually operate on Dhaka-New York route, were grounded at least thrice in the last six months in Brussels and New York for various mechanical faults. Late last year, the US Federal Aviation did not allow a Biman aircraft to depart from John F Kennedy Airport without fixing 17 faults found in it.