Airlines plan big

September 21, 2013

To invest $1 billion to procure 22 aircraft by next year, hoping to expand business
Airlines plan bigThe aviation industry is likely to see an unprecedented boom as both the public and private airlines are expected to invest around $1 billion in
the sector by next year.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines and four other local airlines will either purchase or lease at least 22 aircraft with the sum, said officials at the civil aviation authority and the airlines. National carrier Biman plans to acquire eight aircraft, Regent Airways five, NOVOAIR four, United Airways three and US-Bangla Airlines at least two.
This investment is aimed to tap around 10 percent annual growth of passengers and eight percent that of cargo over the next seven years, as the Bangladesh economy is marking a steady growth of over six percent, said executives of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) and different airlines.
Air Vice-Marshal Mahmud Hussain, chairman of Caab, told a seminar recently that in 2020 the number of passengers will reach 10.2 million from 5.8 million now and the increased air cargo will be 3.6 lakh tonnes from 2.3 lakh tonnes.
Of the total 5.8 million passenger and cargo carriages involving a market of around $440 million annually, Biman, United and Regent have around 18 percent market share. Biman alone has around 15 percent stake, according to airlines officials.
“The total investment will be even bigger as the airlines will have to invest on training of technical manpower like pilots and engineers,” Imran Asif, former chief executive officer of Regent, told The Daily Star.
Once in operation, the new aircraft will require a huge infrastructural support, including enough parking spaces, apron and boarding bridges, said SM Nazmul Alam, Caab director of flight safety and regulations.
Keeping this in mind, he added, they planned a massive expansion of the Shahjalal International Airport where a third terminal and 32 new boarding bridges would be built in two to three years. The airport has eight boarding bridges now.
The investment will also create many jobs as it will require around 100 pilots and 150 engineers to operate the aircraft, Alam told The Daily Star recently.
Biman will purchase two Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, each costing around $170 million. The planes will join the Biman fleet in February and March next year. It also plans to buy two turbo-prop narrow body aircraft for domestic operations by November this year.
In addition, the Biman management is planning to take long-term lease of another four aircraft in efforts to double its current fleet of eight aircraft.
Biman will be investing around $450 million in buying new aircraft, plus a further $100 million in leasing aircraft, Biman’s Managing Director Kevin John Steele told The Daily Star on September 12.
He added Biman would be investing around $50 million in ground equipment, aircraft spares, computers and infrastructure development and around $60 million in improving customer service, onboard products and systems updates.
Regent Airways Managing Director Mashruf Habib said they would be investing around $60 million in leasing amphibian aircraft soon and four Boeing 737-800 aircraft by 2014 as it planned to expand its international network. The airline now has a fleet of four aircraft and the amphibian aircraft is set to join today.
Unveiling the plan, NOVOAIR Managing Director Group Captain (retd) Mofizur Rahman said they would purchase two aircraft within this year or in the first quarter of next year, which will require around $8-10 million. His company is also expecting to lease another two aircraft in the last quarter of next year, which might require $5-6 million.
Kamrul Islam, assistant general manager (public relations) of United Airways, said one MD-83 and one ATR-72 aircraft joined their fleet on September 13 while the company was planning to acquire two smaller aircraft for domestic operation.
The US-Bangla Airlines has recently got licence from the Caab but has yet to start operation. Sources said the airlines would require at least two aircraft for domestic operation.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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