The national carrier marked its 48-year journey on January 4. It has increased the fleet manifold over the years, the current fleet size being the largest in its history
Biman Bangladesh Airlines plans to purchase six more brand new aircraft as part of its fleet expansion plan with a view "to becoming one of the best carriers" in Asia.
The aircraft are four Dreamliners and two Dash-8s.
The national carrier on Saturday marked its 48-year journey. It has increased the fleet manifold over the years, the current fleet size being the largest in its history.
Biman took to the skies on 4 January 1972 with a Dakota model aircraft.
De Havilland, a Canadian aircraft company, has proposed selling two Dash-8 aircraft to Biman for short-haul flights. Biman will soon start negotiating the price with De Havilland, said a senior executive of the national airline.
It wants to raise the number of short-haul aircraft to seven from the existing two to increase flights on domestic routes. The existing Dash-8 aircraft have been taken on lease.
The public limited company has already purchased three new Dash-8 aircraft from Bombardier. They will join the fleet in June.
Of the two existing leased aircraft, one will be returned in June. The inclusion of three new aircraft will take the total number of Dash-8s in the Biman fleet to four.
Currently, Biman is operating long-haul aircraft on domestic routes due to shortage of short-haul aircraft, said Md Mokabbir Hossain, managing director of the national carrier.
As a result, Biman is incurring losses on domestic routes, he said. After the inclusion of the new Dash-8 aircraft, it will stop using 737 aircraft on domestic routes in order to come out of losses, he added.
The plan to purchase new four Dreamliners came after an Indian airline company failed to make its payment to Boeing company against the aircraft it had earlier ordered for itself.
Against such a background, Boeing proposed that the government purchase these already prepared aircraft.
Though the decision is yet to be finalised, Biman is considering purchasing them if it gets the aircraft at a lucrative price as in the case of its earlier two Dreamliners.
In October, Biman took the decision to purchase the two Dreamliner aircraft at half price at short notice after getting an offer from Boeing.
Biman got the two aircraft at a cheap price after the China-based Hainan Airlines cancelled its order for two Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft owing to its financial crisis.
The two new Dreamliner aircraft joined the Biman fleet in December last year, raising the total number of Dreamliners to six.
Biman has seen a rapid fleet expansion and significant improvement in performance in terms of carrying larger numbers of passengers and earning profits.
On March 4, 1972, Biman went into operation carrying 179 passengers from London to Dhaka. Now it carries an average of 8,000 passengers per day.
In fiscal year 2018-19, Biman carried 27.62 lakh passengers, which is 39 percent higher than in fiscal year 2014-15, according to the company.
In the last five years, Biman made profits in four years and incurred losses in one year.
The total net profit in the last five years was Tk522 crore.
The public limited company paid Tk2,080 crore to the government's exchequer in the last five years.
It also made remarkable progress in on-time performance, removing its bad reputation of flight delay.
Since September, Biman's on-time performance has crossed 90 percent from the previous 50 percent, where the international average is 80 percent.
Among Asia Pacific airlines, Hong Kong Airlines was ranked top with 88.11 percent on-time performance whereas IndiGo Airlines was 10th at 81.70 percent last year, according to the global report, "The Punctuality League-2019".
On-time performance is measured by looking at flights that arrive or depart within 15 minutes of their schedule.
Currently, Biman is operating flights to 16 international destinations.
From January 5, it will start flight operations to Manchester in the UK. Seven more international stations are under consideration for a commencement of flight operations this year.
The new destinations will be Guangzhou, Chennai, Colombo, Male, Tokyo, Toronto and New York.