- Airbus plans to upskill Bangladeshis in aviation and aerospace
- Negotiations underway for 10 A350 aircraft sale to Biman
- Foreign carriers dominate 80% of Bangladesh's aviation market
- Bangladesh's large population and GDP make it an attractive market
- Bangladesh would need 55 wide-body aircraft by 2042
- Biman's current fleet consists of 21 aircraft
European aviation giant Airbus has aligned its plans to help Bangladesh achieve its ambition of becoming an aviation hub by creating a favourable ecosystem, said Morad Bourouffala, chief representative of the company in Bangladesh.
During a recent visit by Bangladeshi journalists to Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, he said, "We are no longer seeing Bangladesh as a transactional partner, meaning that we sell something and leave. We truly want Bangladesh to become an aviation superpower.
"I believe Bangladesh has the potential to become an aviation hub."
Bourouffala said, "Our strong bilateral relationship has led to this, where all of our plans are aligned to help Bangladesh achieve its ambition of becoming an aviation hub."
Airbus marketing vice president Antonio da Costa and wide-body market development manager Juan Camilo Rodríguez also joined Bourouffala in briefing the Bangladeshi journalists in Toulouse, Europe's aerospace capital.
The European aircraft manufacturer is currently negotiating a sale of 10 wide-body A350 aircraft, including two freight planes, to Biman Bangladesh Airlines. The state-run Biman now has a 21-aircraft fleet, mostly dominated by Airbus's main competitor Boeing planes from the United States.
Asked what it means for the public to have an aviation hub, Airbus's marketing vice president, Antonio da Costa, said, "It really means being able to take advantage of existing passenger flows, both Bangladeshi nationals and foreigners visiting Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh is well-located in Asia, and this can be used as an opportunity to act as a gateway for people travelling between point A and point B, both within Asia and globally, to go through Bangladesh. It is important to establish the necessary infrastructure to make this possible."
Foreign carriers currently capture around 80% of the aviation market in Bangladesh, according to industry insiders.
"With its new-generation wide-body A350 aircraft, which offer 25% lower fuel burn and a superior passenger experience, Airbus can equip Bangladeshi airlines with the right tools to compete with foreign airlines," said da Costa.
The Airbus executives highlighted the tremendous potential of Bangladesh, citing its large population of 175 million and higher GDP per capita than India.
Morad Bourouffala said, "We want to capitalise on the human and skills force that is present in Bangladesh. Our project will upskill Bangladeshis in the aviation and aerospace industry."
Bourouffala said Airbus will help Bangladesh develop human capital for the aviation sector. "When we sell aircraft to customers worldwide, we always provide a comprehensive training package for their personnel. It is clearly our ambition to help Bangladesh develop its human skills capacity."
Despite recognising that Bangladesh is a "shining economy", the officials believe that the aviation market here is not yet fully realised.
"We are investing time and resources in Bangladesh because we believe in [the country's] Vision 2041 and want to be a part of it," said Bourouffala.
He added that Airbus is already working with the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University to develop a talented workforce.
'Bangladesh needs more wide-body aircraft'
The Airbus Global Market Forecast study predicts that Bangladesh will need 105 narrowbody and 55 widebody aircraft by 2042 to meet the growing demand of air travellers.
Juan Camilo Rodríguez, widebody market development manager at Airbus, presented a comparative study of the aviation potential of different countries, taking into account their GDP size and number of air travellers.
He claimed that air travel from, to, and within Bangladesh will double by 2031, growing at 6% internationally, 8% domestically, and 6.4% in total.
The state-run Biman and private airlines currently have a combined fleet of 36 aircraft, including 10 wide-bodied ones. Bangladesh's GDP is worth $416 billion, and 7.5 million Bangladeshi expatriates live around the world.
In contrast, the Airbus study showed that Vietnam has a fleet of 187 aircraft, including 35 wide-bodied ones, with a GDP of $366 billion and 3.4 million expatriates. The Philippines operates 172 aircraft, including 29 wide-bodied ones, with a GDP of $394 billion and 6.1 million expatriates.