Biman Bangladesh Airlines is expecting to carry its passengers to the Canadian west coastal major city of Vancouver and the US's city of Los Angeles collaborating with Air Canada through code sharing via Narita of Japan by January 2024.
"We have already received a positive reply from Air Canada regarding code sharing agreement ... and we are expecting to make it effective by the third week of January," Biman Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shafiul Azim told BSS today.
Code sharing is a marketing arrangement in which an airline places its designator code on a flight operated by another airline, and sells tickets for that flight.
After the code-sharing agreement, a Canada or US-bound passenger will fly to Narita by onboarding Biman's aircraft and after taking a stopover there, he or she can reach Vancouver or Los Angeles from Narita by Air Canada plane with a single ticket, boarding passes and baggage tags issued by the Biman Bangladesh airlines.
Biman's CEO expected that the code sharing would help the national flag carrier get huge traffic to its Narita flight with Canadian or US intending travellers as a large number of Bangladeshi expatriates are residing in Vancouver and Los Angeles.
The passengers could save nearly five hours by availing 15 hours of total flight time including Biman's six-hour Narita route and around nine hours flight to reach Vancouver or Los Angeles from Narita by crossing the Pacific Sea.
Currently, the North American west coast bound passengers from Dhaka use Singapore or Malaysian airlines taking layover in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to reach Vancouver or Los Angeles with a total more than 20 hours of flight time.
Bangladeshi huge Canadian expatriate community has already made Biman's Dhaka-Toronto-Dhaka flight very popular, but the national flag carrier is yet to have any option to offer for Canadian or US west coast travellers.
"Keep it in mind, we would like to offer more route connections to our passengers as like as other airlines throughout the world continue to form code-share arrangements to expand their market presence and competitive ability," Azam said.
The Biman's chief hoped that the code sharing with Air Canada would make the Biman's Dhaka-Narita flight, which resumed last September after 17 years, more popular among the Bangladeshi expatriates.
"We have already received positive response on our Dhaka-Narita route ... so far we are satisfied with the load factor of the route," Azam said.
Apart from Bangladeshi and Japanese passengers, a large number of Nepalese nationals and a number of Indian citizens are also using Biman's three weekly Dhaka-Narita-Dhaka flights.
"We have started Dhaka-Narita-Dhaka flight with 50% of Passengers load factor ... but, currently we are having nearly 80% load factor in both ends," said Biman's Director Marketing and Sales Mohammed Salahuddin.
He hoped that the Dhaka-Narita-Dhaka flight's load factor would be nearly 100% after code sharing with Air Canada.
Salauddin said Biman can offer lower fares to Canadian and US west coast bound passengers compared to the airlines that are currently operating routes to Vancouver and California.
Biman is also exploring with other airlines interlinking or code sharing so that the flag carrier can offer its passengers different other routes including Sydney beyond Japan like a 360-degree airline, he added.
Under the Air Service Agreement between Bangladesh and Japan, Tokyo allowed Biman Bangladesh Airlines to enjoy a fifth freedom facility in operating flights in that country.
The fifth freedom allows an airline the right to carry passengers from its own country to a second country and from that country onward to a third country and so on.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has been engaged with the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for a long time to upgrade Bangladesh's status to "Category 1" so that the local carriers, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines, can operate their own flights to different destinations in the US.