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Strategic partner for Bangla Biman

Bangla Govt, has been talking to Emirates, Thai Airways and Gulf Air among others, for a strategic partner for Biman.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 13:17 IST

The Bangladesh government, which has been talking to Emirates, Thai Airways and Gulf Air among others, may soon announce a strategic partner for Bangladesh Biman.

It is part of an urgent effort to salvage the crisis-ridden national flag carrier, BD News news agency said, quoting State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.

"We are talking to interested parties... If we find it feasible, we will float international tenders shortly," the minister said. "It is very urgent".

The state-owned Biman has accumulated huge losses over the years, due partly to rising fuel prices, but more due to bad management and lack of infrastructure. It shelved plans to buy new aircraft and last week announced the suspension of its prestigious but loss-making Dhaka-New York flights.

The minister noted that the Sheikh Hasina government had undertaken a project, funded by the World Bank, to appoint strategic partners for Biman and hired consultants to carry out the work. Despite paying consultants US$ 1.6 million, "nothing had been achieved," he was quoted by the Bangladesh Observer newspaper as saying.

He said if they found it viable and feasible, they would go for international tenders in order to ensure the quick appointment of a partner.

Alamgir said, "We've seen SriLanka Airlines are doing fine following its partnership with Emirates. We think we can also have a strategic partner like SriLanka because we have a very good market," Alamgir said.

Biman currently has six DC-10 aircraft aged 20 years or older in operation, four Airbus 310s bought in the early 1990s, and three Fokker F-28 aircraft that are mostly used for domestic and regional Flights.