Vol. 5 Num 1066 Fri. June 01, 2007  

New passenger airline set to fly by month-end
First aircraft of United Airways in Dhaka

United Airways (Bangladesh) Ltd, a private sector airline founded by non-resident Bangladeshis, is going to operate its maiden domestic passenger flight by the end of this month, officials said yesterday.

The first aircraft of the airline, a Canadian made 37-seat Dash-8, has already arrived in Dhaka, said the officials adding that the company will invest Tk 2,000 crore in the next five years.

The non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) mainly from the UK have teamed up to create an airline in Bangladesh and become a market leader in the next two years on the domestic route, the officials said.

"So far around 500 NRBs have contributed to forming the company," Tasbirul Ahmed Choudhury, chairman and managing director of United Airways, told a press conference in Dhaka.

Another Dash-8 aircraft will arrive in Dhaka in early July, while two F-100 planes will be added to the fleet by year-end, he said, adding that initially the company will operate on the domestic route. The company will go for international operations later, he added.

"We have received licence from the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh to operate passenger and cargo services both on the international and domestic routes," said Choudhury, also a pilot.

He said aircraft passenger market in the country has been showing 8 to 10 percent growth per year, but no airline has been introduced in the last seven to eight years.

"With this opportunity in mind, this venture will make air travel to and within Bangladesh easier, refreshing, and reliable," he said.

Presently in domestic sector, GMG Airlines, a private sector carrier, has the domestic market share of more than 60 percent, while the rest covered by national flag carrier Biman.

Earlier in March this year, a Kuwait-based company joined Bangladesh's leading air-cargo operator to launch a private passenger airline.

Aqeeq Aviation Holding bought a 49 percent stake in Best Aviation Ltd and the two will jointly launch a passenger airline by July this year, Best Aviation officials said.

"We've already got the provisional air transport operating license for the airline from Bangladesh's civil aviation authority. We will start operation by July this year," Best Aviation's Chief Executive Officer M Haideruzzman said.

Best Aviation owns two cargo aircraft and has leased two others. Aqeeq Aviation is a subsidiary of Kuwait-based investment fund, Al-Aqeelah Finance.