|Best Air is set to start passenger flights from January 14|
|Sunday, 30 December 2007|
Local airline Best Air is set to start passenger flights on the domestic route on January 14, a move industry experts believe will intensify competition in Bangladesh's growing aviation market.
Bangladesh market saw entry of at least five international carriers--Jet Airways, Air Arabia, RAK Airways, Air Slovakia and Air Asia X-- and one local airline -- United Airways -- in the past 12 months.
Best Air, which started cargo operations in 1999 to carry shrimp fries domestically, will start passenger services with a fleet of two Boeing-737 aircraft.
"We will start our passenger services on Dhaka-Chittagong route," M Haider Uzzaman, chairman of Best Aviation Limited, the owning company of Best Air, told a press briefing in Dhaka yesterday.
"We have also plans to operate two non-stop flights a day on Dhaka-Cox's Bazar-Dhaka route from April 1 besides operating on Dhaka-Sylhet-Chittagong-Barisal-Jessore-Dhaka route from the same date," he said.
The airline aims to operate passenger flights to the Middle East in April.
Haider said the company has also a plan to extend its operations to regional destinations such as Kolkata, Jaipur, Bangkok and Kunming.
"Increasing number of manpower imports by neighbouring countries has created the potential of a boom in Bangladesh's aviation industry," Haider said.
Pointing to the fact that the country's main airport Zia International Airport witnesses departures over 40 flights daily and the number is increasing, Haider said, "Bangladesh's airline market grew by 16 percent in January-June period this year."
Referring to the necessity of importing spare parts and aircraft for the growth of the local operators, Haider requested the government to withdraw the present 10 percent import duty.
He said international operators are doing good business due mainly to the failure of national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airline and absence of strong local private operators.
Best Aviation, which formed a joint venture with Kuwait-based company Aqeeq Aviation Holding in March this year, will be the fourth airline on domestic route, industry insiders said.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines, GMG Airlines, and United Airways now operate in Bangladesh's domestic market, according to the experts.
Haider said each flight of Best Air will provide two free seats -- one for a war-maimed freedom fighter and the other for Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus.
"Dr Yunus brings glory for us. He will remain as our lifetime guest for both domestic and international flights," he said.
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