Battling it out in Bangladesh
Biman Bangladesh has been forced to step up its expansion plans due to pressure from a trio of private carriers, which are ready to start challenging the flag carrier on international routes.
Following a radical shakeup in Bangladesh's domestic market that saw new entrants virtually pushing out national carrier Biman Bangladesh, private carriers are now turning their attention to the international arena.
The current caretaker government in Bangladesh has been quick to give the new private players international rights, forcing Biman to step up expansion plans of its own to retain market share. It agreed in March to purchase Boeing 777-300ERs and 787-8s for international operations after years of deferring fleet modernisation plans.
The country's largest privately owned operator, GMG Airlines, is also looking to purchase 777-300ERs and 787s for a further expansion of its fledgling international network. GMG managing director Shahab Sattar says there is "enormous potential" for international services out of Bangladesh as Biman has not been taking advantage of the traffic rights available to it.
Another private carrier, Best Air, is also preparing to launch international services after securing traffic rights for destinations in Asia and the Middle East, and it is also assessing new aircraft purchase offers.
Bangladesh's other private scheduled carrier, United Airways Bangladesh, is meanwhile eyeing international services as well, to points in Europe and the Middle East. It intends to do so with leased widebody aircraft.