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Bangladeshi airlines look to take advantage of Qatar crisis

  • Published at 02:18 pm September 12th, 2017
  • Last updated at 06:25 am September 14th, 2017
Bangladeshi airlines look to take advantage of Qatar crisis
Bangladeshi airlines now have an opportunity to expand their business into the Middle East as the embargo on Qatar Airways has yet to be lifted. Qatar Airways has been barred from entering the airspace of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE since these countries severed sea and air links with Qatar on June 5 this year, accusing the Gulf country of sponsoring extremism. Qatar Airways is one of the Middle East-based airlines favoured by Bangladeshis travelling to and living in the region. Because of the ban on Qatar's national flag carrier, these passengers are now turning to Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said industry insiders. Bangladeshis who live in and travel to Qatar are unable to use other airlines – i.e. Emirates, Eithad Airways, etc – as they have suspended their operations in the country, so these people are also leaning toward Biman, the insiders added. This situation has created an opportunity for Biman to expand its operations in the Middle East, especially when one takes into account the existing occupancy of its flights on those routes, they explained. Biman officials also agree that the airline is in an advantageous position. “We are getting more passengers because of the ban on Qatar Airways. It is a positive sign for our business,” said Shakil Meraj, general manager (public relations) at Biman. “At present, we are unable to focus on this window because of the Hajj flights. Once the Hajj flight operations are finished, we will look more closely into it,” he added. The private airlines of the country are also eying the potential business opportunities in the Middle East by increasing the frequency of their flights. US-Bangla Airlines has decided to start operating a flight to Doha on October 1. “We are hopeful about the potential of this route as around 300,000 Bangladeshis live in Qatar. The Gulf crisis definitely gives us an additional advantage,” said Kamrul Islam, deputy general manager (marketing support and PR) at US-Bangla. The airline is already operating flights to Oman. “Initially, we ran four flights a week on the Dhaka-Muscat-Dhaka route. Now we have flights every day,” Kamrul added. Regent Airways, another local operator, launched its Dhaka-Doha-Dhaka flight just before the Gulf crisis broke out. Mahfuz Ahmed, senior manager (marketing and sales) of Novoair, another private airline, believes the local airlines will not be able to reap much benefits, especially because of Biman. “Biman has a big fleet and currently operates many flights to the Middle East. It is easier for Biman to expand its business there,” he explained.
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