Bangladesh’s largest private carrier, US-Bangla Airlines, recently completed eight years of operations and has big plans for the future. With most of its flights are within Bangladesh and to nearby destinations, such as India and the Middle East, the carrier wants to now explore long-haul flights to Europe and, eventually, North America.
US-Bangla Airlines entered its 9th year of operations on July 17th. As the carrier approaches the 10-year mark of being in the industry, it feels the time is right to expand operations beyond regional international destinations to Europe and North America.
According to Smart Aviation Asia-Pacific, US-Bangla Airlines could launch operations to Europe in 2023. London, Rome, and Amsterdam are likely to be the first few destinations in the continent.
If all goes well, the carrier could fly to as far as North America a couple of years after Europe. Popular cities such as New York and Toronto are on the list, with a 2025 launch in the pipeline.
The airline wants to start long-haul services to Europe by next year. Photo: US-Bangla Airlines
Traffic data between Bangladesh to Europe and North America suggests high demand for some of these routes. However, it’ll be interesting to see how US-Bangla Airlines plans to monetize them.
For instance, in 2019, more than 155,000 people traveled from Bangladesh to New York JFK and more than 650,000 to Jeddah. But one-way fare (excluding taxes and fuel surcharge) to New York was around $435 compared to $374 for Jeddah.
JFK is 142% further from Bangladesh than Jeddah, yet the fare is just 16% higher. London Heathrow saw more than 127,000 passengers from Bangladesh with an average one-way fare of $363. Amsterdam was a significantly small market, with just 9,458 people traveling from the country but at a much higher fare of $602.
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Rome had a larger piece of the pie, with more than 63,000 people flying in 2019, but at $188 for an average one-way ticket, the airline will have to have a solid strategy to make this profitable.
Of course, these are all pre-pandemic figures, and much has changed in the last three years. We’ll have to wait and see how US-Bangla Airlines plans to go about its expansion next year.
What about aircraft?
According to ch-aviation, US-Bangla Airlines currently operates 7 ATR72-600s, 3 DHC-8-Q400s, and 6 Boeing 737-800. There are also plans to add 4 second-hand 737s and 3 new ATRs.
While these narrowbody aircraft are sufficient for flights to India, Southeast Asia, and the Gulf, the carrier will eventually have to invest in larger aircraft if it plans to cast a broader net to Europe and North America.
There’s been no official announcement by the carrier so far, but reports suggest that it plans to add widebody aircraft soon to its fleet. With more than half of 2022 already gone, US-Bangla Airlines could make an announcement in the coming months. As always, Simple Flying would be keeping an eye out for any such deal.
What do you think about US-Bangla Airlines’ plans? Please leave a comment below.
Source: Smart Aviation Asia-Pacific