The committee formed by the Biman Bangladesh Airlines to conduct a feasibility study on its freighter operation has submitted its report recently, recommending launching the cargo service with one medium-sized aircraft initially on Guangzhou-Hong Kong route.
A senior Biman official told the FE on Tuesday that the five-member committee headed by General Manger (Cost and Budget) Mizanur Rashid suggested leasing a cargo aircraft with a capacity of 27-32 tonnes.
The planning department of Biman is likely to start the process of taking lease of a freighter, sources said.
The committee has suggested catering to the Far East Asian market with the freighter, mainly in Guangzhou and Hong Kong, initially and later to Europe.
Mr Mizan is now in London to procure a software namely 'Cargo Spot', which will be used to operate the freighter.
The committee was formed on December 12 last year to conduct the feasibility study and was supposed to submit a detailed report within a month.
The move came following the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on December 05 during her inspection of the second Boeing 787 Dreamliner Hangshabalaka.
She asked the Biman authorities to take necessary steps to add freighters to the Biman fleet for carrying cargo.
At that time, Biman Managing Director Mosaddique Ahmed said that the Biman authorities would take the next course of action based on the report.
There is a Tk 30 billion cargo market in Bangladesh, but Biman carries only 10 per cent of cargoes.
The remaining 90 per cent of cargoes are carried by cargo freighters of different foreign airlines, including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, China Eastern, Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines.
Biman General Manager Shakil Meraj said that about 500-600 tonnes of cargoes are exported from Bangladesh to various countries -- a cargo market of Tk 25 billion. Biman accounts for only Tk 2.5 billion or 10 per cent of that earnings.
Biman earned Tk 3.15 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2015-16 which shrank to Tk 2.50 billion in FY 2016-17.
On the other hand, another 400-500 tonnes of cargoes are imported daily.
Of the total cargoes transported inbound and outbound, about 50-100 tonnes of cargoes are carried on Guangzhou-Hong Kong route. Cathay Pacific is the major cargo operator here along with China Southern and China Eastern.
Biman can carry only 16 tonnes of cargoes in a Boeing 777 aircraft with 419-seat capacity and only four tonnes in a Boeing 737 with a 162-seat capacity.
Experts say Biman did not pay attention to this highly profitable sector over the years allegedly due to corruption, inefficiency and lack of farsightedness.
Presently, Biman has 15 aircraft in its fleet to carry both passengers and cargo.
© 2017 - All Rights with The Financial Express