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Why Biman Bangladesh Might be Eyeing the Airbus A350

Why Biman Bangladesh Might be Eyeing the Airbus A350


Biman Bangladesh is an airline whose fleet has gone through a major modernization in recent history with the addition of new Boeing 787s. Rumors had surfaced at the Paris Air Show that Biman was looking to add Airbus A350s to its fleet. 


While no official word has been released about Biman and the A350, here are some reasons why the Bangladeshi flag carrier would consider the aircraft.


Photo: Airbus



Biman and Airbus


Biman's active fleet currently consists of 20 airplanes, divided into four Dash 8-400s, six 737-800s, four 777-300ERs, four 787-8s, and two 787-9s.


Bangladesh's flag carrier has not operated an Airbus aircraft since 2016 when it retired S2-ADF, the last of its six-strong Airbus A310 fleet. Even still, the A310 was the only Airbus jet that Biman itself had ever operated throughout its 51-year history.


The airline leased two A330-200s from WAMOS Air in 2017, however, these were only in the fleet for a number of months on a "wet-lease" agreement. 


Photo: AeroXplorer | Caleb Fleming


Such an agreement involves the lessor providing what is known as ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) to the lessee, who would then pay the lessor based on the hours that the leased aircraft would be operated.




Therefore, the A330 cannot be counted as an Airbus jet that Biman itself operated. While the type was in Biman's fleet for a few months between 2017-2018, the crew and maintenance for the two leased planes were provided by WAMOS.


Why the A350?


Given Biman's all-Boeing jet fleet, its shallow history with Airbus makes one wonder why an entirely new plane type (the A350) would be considered as opposed to ordering more Boeing 787s.


It's no surprise that Boeing has been struggling to consistently deliver new Dreamliners lately. The manufacturer has been forced time and time again to halt and delay new 787 deliveries for a variety of factors. 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Michael Szczesniak


Last month, Boeing revealed that it had found a new defect in the 787's horizontal stabilizer fitting. As a result, 70-80 Dreamliners awaiting delivery would have to be inspected. To make matters worse, each jet would take roughly two weeks to fix, thereby slowing deliveries once again for the plane.


Boeing's inconsistent Dreamliner delivery track record could be one reason Biman was considering the A350. However, the rationale behind Biman's decision is actually more straightforward than what most people would think.




Mahbub Ali, Bangladesh's State Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism, replied when asked about a potential A350 order, "Every country has both Airbus and Boeing in their fleet. We didn't have an Airbus in our fleet."


Biman would want the A350 just to have an Airbus plane in its fleet. Simple as that.


Biman's Future


Local news outlets in Bangladesh have reported that Biman signed an agreement at the Paris Air Show to procure ten Airbus A350s. No confirmation regarding this news has been given by Airbus or Biman, posing the question of whether or not this order will ever materialize.




If Biman were to add ten A350s to its fleet, this would boost its long-haul arsenal to 20 aircraft. If new A350s were to join, the carrier has not outlined any future expansion or retirement plans with these new jets.


Biman's oldest widebody aircraft are its four Boeing 777-300ERs. Two of these planes, S2-AFO and S2-AFP, are pushing 12 years of age while the remaining two, S2-AHM and S2-AHN, are nine years old.


These are still relatively young planes and huge assets for the Bengali flag carrier especially on high-demand routes. Biman's 777-300ER seats a whopping 419 passengers and such capacity is unmatched by both the 787 and A350. As such, it's highly unlikely that Biman will retire these four jets soon.


Photo: AeroXplorer | Thomas Tse


Ever since the 787s replaced the 777s on Biman's long-haul services, the 777s have been mostly relegated to Middle Eastern routes but this is a good thing for Biman. One can argue that the 777-300ER's high capacity makes it a cash cow on routes to the Middle East.


Given the huge Bengali diaspora in the Gulf countries and the immense demand for travel to Saudi Arabia, Biman's 777 fleet has been kept busy in these short-to-medium haul sectors. Even with Hajj season having concluded, Biman's 777-300ER fleet continues to shuttle between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.




If new A350s are added, it's not outlandish to speculate that Biman could use them to finally launch regular service to Toronto, Canada. Last year, Biman operated limited services between Dhaka and Toronto with its 787-9 fleet. This route has not operated in quite some time.


Photo: AeroXplorer | Kevin Pedro


The Biman A350's onboard product is all speculation as well. On its 787 fleet, the carrier offers a 2-2-2 configuration in Business Class and a 3-3-3 in Economy Class. A similar layout can be expected with the A350 unless Biman decides to make a few adjustments.


If Biman Bangladesh does eventually opt for the Airbus A350, it will become the second South Asian airline to order the jet in recent history, following Air India.

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

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STORIES Paris Airshow Biman Biman Bangladesh Airbus Airbus A350 Bangladesh Boeing


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