The government has invited 'Expression of Interest' (EoI) from international airlines to become a strategic partner of the Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national flag carrier.
"The Ministry of Civil Aviation & Tourism, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh is looking for a Strategic Partner to associate with the national carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines for its operation," said a Biman tender notice issued on August 24.
Interested Airlines have been requested to submit their "Expression of Interest" by October 11, 2006.
Modus operandi and details of the terms and conditions may be decided through subsequent negotiations, said the tender notice, adding that the bidders may contact Ahsan Quadir, Director Project & Planning of Biman for further details.
The government has been forced to seek a strategic partner for Biman which is financially sick and handicapped by aircraft shortage.
"The main objective behind seeking a strategic partner is to collect necessary aircraft for Biman and optimum utilisation of routes under its name in different countries," State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir told the FE.
The officials of the civil aviation and tourism have already talked with Emirates, Gulf and Thai International on this issue.
Due to the rising cost of maintenance and jet fuel, Biman incurred a loss of more than Tk 10.00 billion in the last fiscal year.
The amount is the highest in the history of Biman. The state-owned airline had incurred losses of Tk 6.38 billion 2004-05, Tk 2.50 billion 2003-04 and Tk 1.50 billion in 2002-03.
The serious fund crisis has been preventing the Biman from procuring new aircraft to beef up its fleet strength.
The Biman, in the meantime, is struggling hard to maintain its international and local flight schedules with 13 aging aircraft.
Currently the Biman is operating flights to five destinations in Europe, nine destinations in the Gulf and Middle East, six destinations in East, Far East and South East Asia and five destinations in the SAARC region.
Biman that lost a DC-10 aircraft in July last when the aircraft was badly damaged after it skidded off the runaway at Chittagong Amanat Shah Airport also owes some Tk 10.00 billion to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) as arrear fuel bills, according to an informed source.
In 2004, it abandoned an F-28 aircraft following an accident in Sylhet.
According to experts, having one or more strategic partners is common in the competitive aviation business around the world.
Sri Lanka secured Emirates as Air Lanka's strategic partner for the last six months.
Besides, Thai, Silk Air and Singapore airlines are maintaining joint strategies to face international competition that is growing very tough day by day.