Biman Bangladesh banks on freighter expansion


Biman Bangladesh the national carrier of Bangladesh has confirmed it is looking at a big expansion of its freighter operations in order to gain more of the country’s booming air cargo market.

“Biman is looking to new freighter services as the cargo market in Bangladesh is huge,” an official with the carrier told Air Cargo Week in a January 31 phone interview. The official asked not to be named.

Bangladesh is a major garment manufacturer although Biman finds itself frustrated by poor infrastructure and a limited roster of planes which sees huge chunks of the air cargo business moved by other carriers especially those from the Gulf.

Biman is open–minded about how to tap these opportunities but said it is considering cargo codeshares, joint ventures and maybe even acquiring designated freighters to get more of the market. “We may lease or we may go (into a joint venture),” said the official.

Purchases might be difficult as the government-owned carrier is tied-in by Dhaka’s financing requirements.

Intriguingly the possibility is there though as Biman is coming to the end of a ten aircraft purchase order and is also wet-leasing two further 737s in the course of this year. With a booming air cargo market to consider and increasing passenger numbers as the economy strides on a new series of planes will need to be ordered.

The carrier set up a five person committee who have met twice to look at routes, opportunities, markets and costs. “We are now just waiting for the report,’ said the official who added it could be available in one month’s time.

Whilst much of Bangladesh’s cargo is bound for the Middle East and Europe with some going to South East Asian destinations China is very much on radar with Biman due to start services to the southern city of Guangzhou later this year.