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April 19, 2024
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Long-time Boeing customer Biman Bangladesh Airlines is set to purchase up to ten Airbus A350 aircraft. The adviser to the country’s Prime Minister, Salman Rahman, signed an Aviation Trade and Investment Partnership with the UK Minister of Business and Trade, Lord Dominic Johnson on Thursday. Part of the agreement is that Biman will have access to long-term financing under the UK Export Credit Facility, which allows it to acquire the Airbus aircraft under favorable terms. Biman Bangladesh set to order up to ten Airbus A350s.

Two days earlier on May 3, Bangladesh newspaper The Business Standard reported that the Board of Biman had decided to acquire two A350Fs, making them the first dedicated freighters in the airline’s fleet. The newspaper said that the Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Mahbub Ali, had confirmed that the purchase was decided in a Board meeting that same day.

Following the announcement of the agreement with the UK, the newspaper reported that Biman Bangladesh wished to purchase a total of ten A350s, including the two A350s. Details have to be worked out before the order can be signed.

Biman operated its own A310s for ten years

The last time Biman operated Airbus aircraft was in 2018 when it leased two A330-200s from Wamos Air. Between August 1996 and September 2016, the carrier operated a total of six A310-300s, of which one aircraft was written off when it overran the runway at Dubai International Airport in March 2007.

UK Minister of Business and Trade, Dominic Johnson (left) and adviser to Prime Minister Salman Rahman of Bangladesh exchange the investment agreements that include aviation. (@SalmanFRahmanMP)

The airline’s current fleet has been built around Boeing, with the narrowbody fleet consisting of six 737-800s and the widebody fleet of four 777-300ERs, four 787-8s, and two 787-9s which were ordered at the 2019 Dubai Airshow. Biman also has six De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400s for its regional operations.

Capturing cargo market share

Airbus has been pushing hard to get an entry with the airline and pitched the A350-900 with a visit of the aircraft in March 2022. The airframer again made an offer during an aviation summit this March. That Biman has now opted for the A350F has raised some eyebrows, because the airline has no tradition with its own cargo. However, according to The Business Standard, the airline wants to capture a piece of the textile and garments market which is now fully controlled by foreign cargo operators. According to the newspaper, there are fourteen cargo airlines active in Bangladesh.  

Airbus orders and delivery tables for March showed a new order for four A350Fs for an undisclosed customer. It is not known if this is a split order that includes two for Biman and two for another customer. Metal cutting for the first A350F started in March. Airbus said this week that entry into service will slip from late 2025 to early 2026.

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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