The newly arrived Dash 8-400 aircraft has been inducted into the Biman Bangladesh Airlines at a time when the airline's business is reeling from the pandemic gloom.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina authorised the induction of the 74-seater aircraft dubbed "Dhrubotara" at a ceremony at the VVIP terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Sunday.
The premier joined the programme through a videoconference from her official residence Ganabhaban. State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism M Mahbub Ali and other Biman officials were at the airport.
After the introduction of the Canadian-built plane, the premier said her government is committed to having Biman equipped with modern facilities as Bangladesh is first known to the international arena through the national flag carrier.
But, she said the expanded fleet of Biman remains idle due to the Covid-19 pandemic. "This is a problem for the whole world," she said, adding, "The entire world is experiencing the same condition as we are."
The PM has named the new aircraft as she did for the other new planes already added to the Biman fleet.
According to a Biman press release, the Dash 8-400 aircraft that arrived on 24 November is equipped with eco-friendly and state-of-the-art facilities.
With the new plane Dash 8-400, the number of Biman aircraft increased to 19, including four Boeing 777-300ER, four Boeing 787-8, two Boeing 787-9, six Boeing 737 and three Dash 8-400.
"Now we are using all aircraft by turns due to flight shortage. The newly launched aircraft will fly to different destinations according to rotating schedules," Biman's Managing Director Mokabbir Hossain told The Business Standard.
"Now we are operating flights to eight international and five domestic destinations," he added.
Three Dash 8-400 aircraft were ordered under a purchase agreement signed between the national flag carrier Biman and the Canadian De Havilland in 2018.
Biman procured the three under the G2G (government-to-government) agreement between Bangladesh and Canada.
The first one got inducted into the Biman fleet on Sunday while two others are likely to be included in February and March next year.
Mokabbir Hossain told TBS earlier that the plane was supposed to be delivered in March this year but was delayed due to the pandemic.
He said the new Dash 8-400 aircraft will operate on the Dhaka-Delhi route which will make flight cheaper. Currently, a long-haul aircraft 737 operates on this route – which is costly for the carrier.
"When a small-haul aircraft flies a short distance, it saves fuel and other costs," he added.
Biman to boost connectivity
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh's geological position will help it earn huge profits if it can establish communication with other countries around it.
"Steps have been taken to strengthen regional and international connectivity through Biman to further expand trade ties," she said.
The induction of the new aircraft to the existing fleet will help boost connectivity with the neighbouring countries, added the PM.
Strengthening the capacity of Biman is a part of the move, she said, and two more Dash 8 Q-400 aircraft will be added to the national flag carrier in February next.