United Airways will start flying to southeastern Chittagong and northeastern Sylhet from the capital Dhaka in the third week of June, company director Ferdous Alam said.
The company, owned by expatriate Bangladeshis living in Britain, had bought a Dash-8 aircraft and would add another Dash-8 in late June followed by two more Fokker 100 by August, he added. "We will initailly fly to domestic destinations. But our main target is to fly to southern cities of China and the Gulf. Bangladeshi air traffic to these destinations has increased tremendously recently," he added. China pipped India as Bangladesh's main import destination in 2005 while nearly three million Bangladeshis now work and live in the Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. United Airways will be the second Bangladeshi private passenger airline. Presently GMG is the sole private operator, which flies to domestic and regional destinations in south Asia. In March, a Kuwait-based Aqeeq Aviation Holding bought a 70 per cent stake in the leading air-cargo operator Best Aviation to launch a passenger airline by July this year. Alam said the market was attractive to private operators since the scrapping of a number of flights by the state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines. State airline, Bangladesh Biman Airlines, dominates domestic routes with a 54 percent market shares followed by GMG, with the remaining 46 percent share. All set for a happening aviation sector it seems. With more money in middle class's pocket, they will be willing to fly, throwing heads on competition to GMG and bus operators. All we need is service with a smile, punctuality and safety, areas where Biman has done a great 'Beimani'.