Country Listing

Bangladesh Table of Contents


Civil Aviation


Biman Bangladesh Airlines DC-10-30
Courtesy Biman Bangladesh Airlines

The government-owned airline--Biman Bangladesh Airlines--was established in January 1972, using some 2,500 former officers, crew members, and other employees of Pakistan International Airline. Initially, only domestic service was provided, but within its first year service was expanded to include regional and intercontinental routes. The national prestige of providing premium intercontinental service was underscored in the late 1980s when President Ershad himself served as president of Biman. In the late 1980s, 24 cities in 20 countries were served by Biman, and service was provided to 101 cities in 48 countries with the combined service of Biman and other international carriers. Distant cities, such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Athens, various Middle Eastern cities, Bangkok, and Singapore, were served by Biman's three McDonnellDouglas DC-10-30s. Domestic airports and nearby regional centers, such as Calcutta, Kathmandu, and Rangoon, were served with four smaller jets (1960s-vintage Boeing 707-351Cs) and five propellerdriven airplanes (Fokker-27s and Fokker-28s).

An important part of Biman's business in the 1980s came from charter passengers making pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia (22,165 hajj visits were made in FY 1986) and from Bangladeshi workers traveling to and from Middle Eastern countries (see Islam , ch. 2). Biman was thus an important earner of hard currency. During FY 1986, Biman carried some 879,000 passengers, slightly more than half of whom traveled on its international routes. Nevertheless, it expended a substantial amount of foreign exchange in its operations, and the airline's management was criticized for employing a large number of people--some 4,500 in mid-1988--in proportion to the number of aircraft it operated.

In 1986 there were eighteen airports in Bangladesh: fourteen had permanent-surface runways, but only four could accommodate large jet aircraft. Zia International Airport, twenty kilometers from Dhaka, serves as the national air transportation hub; the Patenga Airport at Chittagong, Sylhet Osmany Airport, and the airports at Jessore, Rajshahi, and Rangpur also are important flight centers.

Data as of September 1988