Biman chief eyes profitability in two years

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Biman Bangladesh Airlines' new chief executive plans to turn around the loss-making carrier within two years.

Kevin Steele, who was appointed to the role in March, admits that the Bangladeshi flag carrier is in "very poor standing", having made losses in the 2011 and 2010 financial years.

Nevertheless, he remains upbeat about the prospects of turning the carrier around in the next few years.

"I expect Biman to be profitable within two years, and with a lot of basic changes to infrastructure, fleet, network, systems architecture and customer service - that will make that profitability sustainable in the future," he says.

In the few weeks since taking on the position with the carrier, Steele says that he has identified a number of small changes that have the potential to save it up to $20 million per year.

Longer term, Biman is also looking to make savings from the continued modernisation of its fleet. The airline operates nine aircraft, which include two Airbus A310s, two Boeing DC-10s and a single 747-200.

Steele says that the airline will phase out its ageing DC-10s this year and will replace them with two leased 777s, although it has not yet finalised which variant it will take.

They will join two existing 777-300ERs in the fleet, and Steele adds that two more of that type will be delivered in February 2014. Biman also has four 787-8s and two 737-800s on order.

Steele is also planning to lift Biman's profile globally, and has set a goal of winning an internationally-recognised industry award within two years.

"Many people have laughed at this aspiration, but I genuinely think it can be done," he says. "There is a real commitment from our staff, from the government, and from the people of Bangladesh to make this happen, they just need some guidance on how to do it."