The airlines authorities are taking initiatives to bring all the country’s major cities under air connectivity without any interval.
“We are going to connect bridges between the major cities directly. So, when we launch our direct flights, the passengers from Saidpur would not have to stay over in capital Dhaka as he would be able to travel to his desired city like Chattogram without any break,” said airline officials.
Private airlines, including the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines are going to operate flights on unconventional domestic routes.
Experts said, introducing flights on unconventional domestic routes will help the airliners to use their fleet capabilities more in the coming days. However, the implementation of the plan will not be easy if refueling facilities and 24-hour flights are not provided at domestic airports.
Domestic airlines have planned to connect different cities by air without Dhaka this time. Meanwhile, state flag carrier Biman has started flights from Sylhet to Chattogram and Cox's Bazar.
Biman’s managing director and CEO Mokabbir Hossain said, "The Dash8 aircraft in our fleet are capable of flying at regional distances. But the flying hours of our country's destinations are quite short. Due to the short distance, we are not able to use the full capacity of these aircraft”.
“We have started flying on non-traditional routes instead of traditional. For example, we have started operating flights on Chattogram -Sylhet-Cox’s Bazar. Now we will also start Jessore-Chattogram, Chattogram-Sylhet,” he added.
Dash8 model aircraft are used in Biman’s fleet while US Bangla and NovoAir are using ATR 72 aircrafts. Both types of aircraft are suitable for short-haul destinations. Both aircrafts can fly nonstop for three hours with fully loaded fuel and passengers.
General Manager of US Bangla Airlines Md Kamrul Islam said, “There is also an issue of availability of the connecting flights within our country. We have to pay double taxes to travel to two destinations within our country taking an interval at Dhaka airport. However, if we can connect flights among cities directly, this problem will go away”.
“We are expecting to add three more ATR72 flights to our fleet by April next. Then we will increase flight frequencies to domestic routes. But in that case we will need more facilities at these domestic airports”, he added.
Experts said passengers will get the major facilities if direct flights are introduced on non-conventional domestic routes.
ATM Nazrul Islam, an aviation expert and adviser to the Aviation Operators Association, told the media, “The first problem is fuel. If it is not available at every airport, you will have to carry extra fuel. It has to compromise with the passenger carrying capacity on the flight. In this case, the state institution Padma has to come forward. If Padma supplies fuel to different parts of the country, it has a good chance. Passengers will get benefits. They will be able to travel directly from one city to another.”
At present, jet fuel facilities are available at the country’s three international airports. These are Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram and Osmani International Airport in Sylhet.
However, there is no jet fuel facility in any other domestic airport of the country. For this, the airlines have to rely on these three airports.