Dhaka: Bangladesh’s second private passenger airline will begin domestic operations next month in a fast growing market boosted by the scrapping of flights by the state-run airline, an official said.
United Airways will start flying to southeastern Chittagong and notheastern Sylhet from the capital Dhaka in the third week of June, company director Ferdous Alam said.
The company, owned by expatriate Bangladeshis living in Britain, had bought a Dash-8 aircraft and would add another Dash-8 in late June followed by two more Fokker 100 by August, he added.
“We will initally fly to domestic destinations. But our main target is to fly to southern cities of China and the Gulf. Bangladeshi air traffic to these destinations has increased tremendously recently,” he added.
China pipped India as Bangladesh’s main import destination in 2005 while nearly three million Bangladeshis now work and live in the Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
United Airways will be the second Bangladeshi private passenger airline. Presently GMG is the sole private operator, which flies to domestic and regional destinations in south Asia.
In March, a Kuwait-based Aqeeq Aviation Holding bought a 70% stake in the leading air-cargo operator Best Aviation to launch a passenger airline by July this year.
Alam said the market was attractive to private operators since the scrapping of a number of flights by the state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
“Biman’s withdrawal from some main domestic and regional flights leaves the market wide open for the private sector. Already GMG has added more destinations and more flights to its existing operations,” he added.
GMG recently started three new international flights, just weeks after state carrier Biman also axed some international routes to save cash.
Biman reported a record loss of $120 million (Rs486 crore) in the year to June last year.