Bangladesh is set to sign an air transport agreement that will once again enable it to operate flights to the United States.
Scheduled to be signed today, the bilateral agreement will allow Biman Bangladesh Airlines and other private airline companies of the country to operate flights between Dhaka and New York.
So far Bangladesh has been denied the opportunity to operate flights to the US after the Federal Administration Authority (FAA) demoted Bangladeshi airports to B-category.
Since then Bangladesh has been trying to restart flights to the US by improving security at its airports and acquiring modern aircraft to meet the requirements of the US authorities.
In 2013 the Bangladesh government initiated an air transport agreement with the US however that did not proceed beyond a draft stage. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been strongly lobbying to ensure resumption of flights to the US to benefit Bangladeshis and improve business opportunities for Bangladeshi and American companies through direct flights.
The Federal Administration Authority (FAA) will inspect and audit standards at Bangladesh’s airports, particularly the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport after signing the agreement. During this time frame Bangladeshi authorities will develop necessary infrastructure and improve its human resources including beefing up of security screening activities at airports to ensure those airports pass the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) audit.
Bangladesh and the United States have finalised the bilateral air transportation agreement after initial talks. Once signed today it will be a milestone for relations between the two countries and allow Bangladeshi airlines to operate Dhaka-New York-Dhaka flights in the near future.
The agreement can be seen as the first step to operate flights to the US as Bangladeshi airports would be upgraded enabling the FAA to open the air routes for Bangladeshi airlines. Other sectors of the aviation industry will also be improved as a result of the deal.
The US and Bangladesh are becoming closer strategically as part of the Indo-Pacific strategy. In recent weeks the US government has stepped up efforts to woo Bangladesh through the sale of hi-tech military hardware and air transportation agreement to improve relations with Bangladesh.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines is expected to purchase additional Boeing passenger aircraft to bolster its fleet. The national airlines of Bangladesh has made a target to increase its fleet to 50 aircraft through purchase of new passenger aircraft through Boeing and Bombardier mostly.
Boeing is also selling new AH-64E Guardian Apache attack helicopters to the Bangladesh Air Force for the first time signifying the growing defence cooperation between the two nations. Biman Bangladesh Airlines currently operates four Boeing 787-8, two Boeing 787-9, four Boeing 777-300ER, six Boeing 737-800 and two Dash-8 Q400s according to Biman’s website.