Bangladesh revises air service deal with Japan

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Bangladesh has revised its air service agreement with Japan increasing the weekly flight frequency from two to seven and dropping the third-country restriction on the Dhaka–Tokyo route.

Civil aviation and tourism ministry officials on Monday further told New Age that the Bangladeshi aircraft would also get the scope to operate codeshare flights on the route.

A Bangladesh delegation, led by Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh chairman Air Vice-Marshal M Mafidur Rahman, visited Japan on January 29 and 30 for the revision of the deal.

The CAAB officials said that a codeshare flight was marketed by one carrier and operated by another.

Codeshare flights are based on agreements between airlines on selling seats on each other’s flights in order to provide passengers with a wider choice of destinations, they added.

The CAAB chairman told New Age that the previous deal had allowed them to operate only two flights a week , which would now be seven a week from each of the countries.

‘In the past, Thailand was the mandatory stopover for us but now we can have the stopover in any country as we need,’ said the CAAB chief.

National flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines managing director and chief executive officer Md Mokabbir Hossain said that as the air service agreement was revised the Biman was planning to operate three flights a week on the Dhaka–Tokyo route in the near future.

‘We will operate one flight via Thailand and will also fly directly to Japan,’ said the Biman boss.

The Biman suspended its service on the Dhaka–Tokyo route in 2006, deeming it not commercially viable.

Now given the enhanced business ties and higher tourist movement between the two countries, the airlines decided to resume its flights on the route, officials said earlier.

The decision came at a time when the two countries saw a rapid rise in their bilateral trade, which is expected to further go up when Japan opens up its labour market to Bangladeshi workers in the future.

Under the previous Bangladesh-Japan air service agreement, the Biman could operate only two flights to and from Japan a week via Bangkok and could drop or take only 30 per cent of the passengers in the middle destination.

On July 30 last year, Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Dhaka discussed the issue of revising the agreement during a bilateral meeting.

According to media reports, there are now more than 270 Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh, 50 per cent higher compared to five years ago.

Bangladesh’s export earnings from Japan too saw an 11.73 per cent increase to $1.13 billion in the FY18, according to Export Promotion Bureau data.

Currently Bangladesh has air service agreements with 53 countries and 17 of them are in operation.