Biman Bangladesh Airlines started its regular flights on the Sylhet-London route on Sunday.
The first flight carrying 232 passengers left Sylhet Osmani International Airport at 11:15 am, said a press release of the civil aviation and tourism ministry.
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali inaugurated the regular flights on this route, which will be operated every Wednesday.
At the inauguration ceremony, the state minister said it was a day of great joy for the residents of Sylhet as they had waited for the direct flights from Sylhet to London for a long time.
Sajjadul Hasan, chairman of the Biman board of directors, Air-Vice Marshal M Mafidir Rahman, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, Md Mokabbir Hossain, managing director of Bangladesh Biman, and Masud Uddin Ahmed, Sylhet city Awami League president, were present at the programme.
The state minister said 12 aircraft, including Boeing 787 (Dream Liner), 777 and 737 had been added to the fleet of the national flag carrier due to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's interest and efforts.
The government has also purchased three new Dash-8 Q400 aircraft from Canada Commercial Corporation, said Md Mahbub Ali, and these will join the fleet soon, he added.
As per the directives of the prime minister, the network of Biman Bangladesh Airlines is being expanded, and the process of adding new destinations is going on, the state minister said.
"We have signed an agreement with the United States after ensuring the fifth freedom of the air. Now, any number of flights will be able to fly to any city of the USA from Bangladesh. It is a great development in the process of operating direct flights on the Dhaka-New York route," said the state minister.
Besides, the task of achieving the United States Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Category-1 status is proceeding satisfactorily, he said. The FAA could not conduct a field visit due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
They would do it online now, Md Mahbub said. He is hopeful about starting flights on the Dhaka-New York route once the inspection is complete.
"Apart from this, we are working on operating direct flights to Toronto in Canada and Narita in Japan from Dhaka. We will be able to begin direct flights to these countries very soon," said the state minister.