No Bull: Biman Bangladesh to Birmingham Airport and New York JFK
From April 2014, anna.aero can exclusively reveal that Biman Bangladesh Airlines is planning to launch twice-weekly 777-300 operations from its Dhaka hub to Birmingham in the UK, before transiting on to New York JFK. This announcement is significant for several reasons:
- This is the third long-haul success for Birmingham Airport in recent months, following swiftly on from Air India (launched four times weekly Amritsar/Delhi operations in August) and airblue (launched twice-weekly Islamabad/Lahore in September);
- The route has seemingly been snatched away from its UK regional airport rival Manchester (Biman had served Manchester previously up until September 2012, as well as New York JFK up until April 2011 according to Innovata / Diio Mi data);
- The carrier is mooted to be looking at Dhaka-Canada (probably Toronto) route in the next 12 months (a Bangladeshi delegation was in Canada in September), which may well be routed via Birmingham too (Biman is also evaluating a Los Angeles service, but this will be flown via Hong Kong);
- Birmingham will become only the third UK airport to have direct flights to New York JFK – joining London Heathrow and Manchester (perhaps the fact that the latter has nine weekly operations with American Airlines (daily) and Pakistan International Airlines (twice weekly) was another reason for selected Birmingham, and therefore allowing Biman to avoid direct competition).
Big impact to Bangladesh; less so JFK
Commenting on the second point, the Biman’s Managing Director and CEO Kevin Steele stated: “The option [serving Birmingham] is better because a greater number of Bangladeshis are living in Birmingham than in Manchester and the Birmingham offer is more commercially viable than Manchester Airport’s offer.”
Biman currently flies the only direct services between the UK and Bangladesh, offering three weekly services split between Dhaka (weekly) and Sylhet (twice-weekly) from Heathrow, with much of the existing market being catered for by the likes of the MEB3 (Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways) via their respective hubs. On that basis, an additional twice-weekly operation from Birmingham will see weekly seats to Bangladesh grow from 936 (based on Innovata / Diio Mi schedules for 7-13 November) to 1,774 (Biman’s 777-300s are fitted with 419 seats, according to aircraft configuration figures obtained from planespotters.net).
The impact of the arrival of carrier in the UK-New York JFK market is going to be less marked, as there is planned to be 145 weekly flights offering over 41,000 seats to the US hub in the average week next April (Innovata / Diio Mi 7-13 April). If New York Newark is considered then weekly flights increases to 246 and weekly seats to over 62,000.
It should be noted that Norwegian will start its own service to New York JFK from London Gatwick on 3 July 2014, to become the fourth UK airport to have services to this particular New York gateway. Manchester Airport will console itself with the fact that it has daily 757 operations to Charlotte with US Airways starting 22 May (and Air Canada rouge to Toronto five times weekly from 26 June).