22 May 2024, 18:26
Update : 23 May 2024, 09:50

Rivalry steepens among US, European aircraft producers over Bangladesh market

By Tanzim Anwar

DHAKA, May 22, 2024 (BSS) – An apparent rivalry has steepened among US-based Boeing and Europe’s Airbus over the Bangladesh’s aviation sector as the two commercial aircraft producers are vying to reach a deal with state-run Biman airlines that decided to procure craft to expand its fleet.

Boeing has demanded a “full and fair evaluation” of its proposal of selling wide-body jets while its archrival Airbus said they were confident to ink the deal with Biman.

“We want to see a full and fair evaluate on (by Biman) of our proposal and we hope that happened before the final (purchase) decision,” Boeing’s visiting vice president Ryan Weir told a select group of aviation reporters here on Tuesday.

Weir said he recently met with concerned senior officials including that of the PMO and civil aviation ministry alongside the Biman and "they told us quite frankly that they will do full evaluation of the Boeing proposal”.

French ambassador in Dhaka Marie MASDUPUY, on the other hand, told diplomatic reporters on Wednesday morning that discussions between Airbus and Biman was “going well” on purchasing Airbus wide body passenger and freighter planes.

“We hope that soon there will be a signature of finalization (of the deal) … We are very confident,” she said.

Civil aviation and tourism minister Faruk Khan, meanwhile told BSS today that he asked the Biman to evaluate thoroughly both the proposals and accept one which would benefit the national airliner.

“We will accept the proposal which will be beneficial for us,” he briefly told this correspondent.

The tug of war between the two aviation giants continues for more than a year when the Bangladesh government decided to purchase more wide body planes for the Biman fleet, which currently is dominated by Boeing planes.

The Airbus came to the scene last year when a Joint Communique was signed in London between UK's Minister of State in the Department of Business and Trade Lord Dominic Johnson and Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman.

The Communique, includes the purchase of 10 A350 aircraft, including two A350 Freighters from the Airbus to establish an aviation and trade partnership to develop Bangladesh's aviation sector.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Dhaka in September last year when he said that Bangladesh had committed to order 10 aircraft from Airbus.

Seeing the Airbus move to munch Boing monopoly in Bangladesh’s aviation industry, the US plane manufactures came up with a proposal to Biman to supply more Boing wide body aircraft.

"We have had a proposal on the table for years now," said Boeing’s vice president adding they placed a proposal to sell four passenger planes of Boeing 787 Dreamliner and two Boeing 777-300ER cargo planes.

“We understand that the Airbus proposal was (already) evaluated (by the Biman).  (So) We are always after a fair evaluation of our products,” Weir said.

Boeing Managing Director-Commercial Marketing, Eurasia, and Indian Subcontinent Ashwin Naidu and Sales Director Kaanthi Bhuvanagiri also spoke at the “meet and greet” session with reporters at a city hotel.

Boeing officials assured that the Export-Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM Bank) would provide adequate credit to Biman to procure the US made new aircraft.

Weir said in its proposal Boeing also offered a consultancy service at free of cost to Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) to get its status upgraded from category 2 to category 1 by the US federal Aviation Authority so that Bangladeshi airlines can fly to the United States.

Ashwin Naidu claimed, as per their internal research, Boeing 787 would earn Biman about US$5 million more profit per plane annually because of its fuel efficiency and reduce 30 percent maintenance cost.

“We can offer competitive delivery timing with a delivery position of 787 while Boeing products are going to be more or less expensive than those of our competitors,” he claimed calling their proposal lucrative.

On the other hand, he said, Biman would need to spend an approximate additional amount of nearly $150 million over the next 20 years if go for a mixed fleet, meaning incorporation of Airbus craft in its fleet alongside the existing Boeing ones.

These costs are driven by airplane and engine spares and spare parts, tooling, training as well as additional pilot salaries and administrative overhead costs due to having multiple pilot grounds, he added.

In an earlier interview with the BSS, Airbus President and Managing Director in India and South Asia Remi Maillard, however, claimed that currently the Biman is not benefiting from fleet commonality.

He said Biman does not enjoy any benefit of "cross-crew qualification" training for lack of a common cockpit design as its fleet consists with different version of six Boeing 777-300 ER, four Boeing 787-8, two Boeing 787-9, six Boeing 737 and five are Dash 8-400 aircraft.

Maillard also claimed that the 300-410 seater category of A350-900 offers the lowest cost per seat of any large wide body as this new version of aircraft offers 25 percent advantage in fuel burn, operating costs and CO2 emissions compare to previous generation planes.

He said the A350 aircraft can fly profitably from Dhaka to any large port in the world as it offers up to ultra-long haul 9,700 nautical miles while fuel costs account for 40 to 50 percent of an airline's operating expenditure broadly.

Both the Boeing and Airbus offered for a long-term partnership with Bangladesh to help Dhaka’s desire of turning the country as an aviation hub through providing technology transfer and technical support to its aviation educational institutes.

High officials of both the giant plane manufacturers observed huge aviation market potentials of Bangladesh as it is predicted that the fleet size in Bangladesh is expected to be tripled in next 20 years due to the country’s unpretending economic growth.


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