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Biman Bangladesh Eyes Risky U.S. Resumption

Biman Bangladesh Eyes Risky U.S. Resumption


Biman Bangladesh Airlines has recently outlined plans to resume service to the United States. With a modern fleet of aircraft, the carrier is eyeing its return to the States after 17 years.


Where Will They Fly?


Biman has submitted its application to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) with the aim of resuming direct service to New York JFK.


Bangladesh's flag carrier wants to start five weekly direct flights between Dhaka (DAC) and New York with a technical stop in Izmir, Türkiye (ADB). Pending USDOT approval, Biman hopes this new service will commence as early as Summer 2024.




JFK is not the only airport in consideration, as Biman has also expressed interest in serving Newark, New Jersey (EWR) if JFK were to not work out.


The carrier will operate its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners on the new route if it were to begin. Biman operates four 787-8s and two 787-9s.


Photo: Ryan Wang | AeroXplorer


A similar routing is already in effect to North America. Biman currently operates its 787-9 five times per week between Dhaka and Toronto, Canada (YYZ). However, the flight makes a technical stop in Istanbul, Türkiye (IST) both ways for refueling. A similar setup will be in effect if Biman inaugurates the New York route via Izmir.


Biman last served the United States in 2006 again through New York JFK. This service was operated via Brussels with the airline's aging McDonnell Douglas DC-10 fleet. The last of these tri-holers was only retired back in 2014.


In addition to New York, Biman is considering services to Boston, Washington Dulles, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Given the massive distance between Bangladesh and the States, all of these routes would have to be operated with technical stops.




Biman has stated that the following cities will be considered as stopover points to refuel the aircraft on its way to and from the States:


  • New Delhi, India (DEL)
  • Abu Dhabi, UAE (AUH)
  • Rome, Italy (FCO)
  • Brussels, Belgium (BRU)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS)
  • Manchester, UK (MAN)
  • Birmingham, UK (BHX)
  • Istanbul (IST) or Izmir, Türkiye (ADB)


All of the aforementioned American cities being eyed by Biman have huge Bengali-American communities. It's interesting, however, that Detroit (DTW) has not been listed as a potential target.

In fact, the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Michigan has a rather sizable Bengali population. The city is home to "Banglatown", a predominantly Bengali community.


Photo: Thomas Tse | AeroXplorer


If Biman's USDOT application is approved, it will take a number of years for the carrier to expand into the United States. After all, six Dreamliners and four 777s are not going to cut it.


This is a scenario where, if Biman moves ahead with its Airbus A350 order, we could see these jets being deployed on routes to the United States in the future.




Houston (or New York), We Have a Problem.


Bangladesh has a "Category 2" rating by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This rating denotes that the country's aviation industry does not provide safety oversights up to ICAO standards.


However, given Bangladesh's rapid modernization in recent history, especially with its national carrier, there are hopes that its FAA rating will be upgraded.


The carrier hopes that as it continues to work with the FAA, Bangladesh will be upgraded to "Category 1". This category means that airlines from a specific country operate in accordance with ICAO standards and can operate their own aircraft to American airports.


Photo: Kevin Pedro | AeroXplorer


In short, Biman's proposed service to the United States depends on the FAA's decision. Whether or not its home country's status is improved remains to be seen.


Another issue is the long-term viability of service to New York. JFK, for example, is an expensive and very slot-restricted airport.

Writing on LinkedIn, an anonymous airline network planner noted that they expect Biman's JFK route to lose up to $34 million each year. This is with a five-weekly frequency and also includes cargo.


Another issue is that Biman will not seem very competitive at all in comparison to Middle Eastern carriers. JFK is served by Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, Egyptair, and Kuwait Airways, all of whom operate regular services to Dhaka.




The fact that Biman too will have a one-stop itinerary between the U.S. and Bangladesh means that they aren't much better of an option compared to other carriers. However, the fact that passengers will not have to change planes during the stopovers does put Biman at a slight advantage.


Biman returning to the United States, more specifically New York, would be huge for the Bengali-American community. This is especially true for the greater New York City area, where the majority of Bengali-Americans reside.




But until the FAA makes a decision on Bangladesh's Category 2 or 1 status, the question of whether or not Biman will return to the States cannot be answered anytime soon.

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Hadi Ahmad
Lifelong aviation enthusiast raised in Central Illinois. 777 is the best plane BTW.

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