European aviation giant Airbus visibly expects a greater stake with a longer presence in Bangladesh as the aircraft builder, virtually a consortium of intra-European enterprises, is nearly set to add 10 wide-body planes to the national airline Bangladesh Biman fleet.
“We see tremendous aviation potential in Bangladesh,” said Morad Bourou-ffala, chief representative of Airbus in Bangladesh as a group of Bangladeshi journalists recently visited Airbus Headquarters in the French city of Toulouse.
The Airbus representative said the aviation market was yet to be utilised fully in Bangladesh therefore their company decided to invest in the country “as we believe the (Bangladesh’s) Vision 2041 and we want to part of it”.
He said Airbus intended to assist Bangladesh in building its air transport ecosystem with new generation wide-body aircraft and skilled aircrews in line with Dhaka’s dream to become an aviation hub.
Airbus’s marketing Vice President Antonio da Costa and Wide-body Market Development Manager Juan Camilo Rodríguez joined Bourou-ffala in briefing the newsmen from Bangladesh in Toulouse, regarded as Europe’s aerospace capital.
Their briefing came as currently the European aircraft manufacturer is spearheading a negotiation with Bangladesh to sell 10 wide-body A350 aircraft including two freight planes.
The first flight of the Airbus A350 model took place on 14 June 2013 while in the last 10 years, the European plane maker has delivered 552 A350 aircraft that fly on 1,071 routes.
French President Emmanuel Macron last month visited Dhaka when he appreciated Bangladesh’s interest in procuring Airbus planes saying “I thank you for your trust in the European aerospace industry.
And this commitment for 10 Airbus A350 is important".
The state-run Biman Bangladesh currently has a 21-aircraft fleet, mostly dominated by Airbus’s archrival Boeing planes of the United States. Of the planes in the fleet, four are Boeing 777-300 ER, four Boeing 787-8, two Boeing 787-9, six Boeing 737 and five Dash 8-400 Canada-made craft.
“The way we have seen Bangladesh today is not only transactional mode that we will sell something and leave the country,” Morad said adding that Airbus was ready to develop a strong human capital base by training pilots and maintenance crew in Bangladesh.
He said Airbus was already collaborating with the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University to build a talented workforce.
The Airbus executives said their company was now ready to install its Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) digital solutions, and render its expertise and knowledge to contribute to Bangladesh’s aviation growth.
The aviation giant said it also wants to facilitate closer cooperation between the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) in areas of regulation, flight safety, training and certification.
Morad said Airbus already proposed to support Bangladeshi operators for maintenance and flight operations as well as advanced air traffic management solutions for best-in-class performance and efficiency.
He said despite the huge potential aircraft shortage largely stalled Bangladesh’s aviation growth and lack of exploration of new routes while its own carriers were currently munching less than 25 per cent of international passengers with the rest being taken away by foreign airlines.
Rodríguez, meanwhile, presented a comparative study on the aviation potentials of different countries taking into account their GDP size and number of air travellers.
He added that Airbus research found Bangladesh’s air travellers would be doubled by 2031 from what it was in 2019.
The state-run Biman and private airlines now jointly have 36 craft including 10 wide-bodied ones while Bangladesh’s GDP is worth US$ 416 billion and 7.5 million expatriate Bangladeshis live across the globe.
In contrast, the Airbus study showed that Vietnam has 187 aircraft including 35 wide-bodied ones with US$366 billion GDP having 3.4 million expatriates while the Philippines operates 172 planes including 29 wide-body planes with 394 billion US dollars GDP having 6.1 million expatriates.
Another Airbus study named Global Market Forecast predicted that Bangladesh needs 105 narrow-body and 55 wide-body aircraft by 2042 to mitigate its increased air traveller demand.
On May last, a Joint Communique was signed in London between Lord Dominic Johnson, UK's Minister of State in the Department of Business and Trade, and Salman F Rahman, Bangladesh Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser, with the aim of establishing an aviation and trade partnership to develop Bangladesh's aviation sector.