US-Bangla Airlines on Friday started operations to another Asian destination — Maldivian capital Male — which is expected to prevent Bangladesh from losing $1 million monthly as foreign exchange.
“From today, as a local carrier we will operate direct flights to Male, carrying passengers and cargo, and it will help Bangladesh keep nearly $1 million per month inside the country that used to be taken by the foreign carrier,” said US-Bangla Managing Director Mohammed Al Abdullah Manum at the inaugural ceremony of the flight at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA).
US-Bangla started direct Dhaka-Male flight as the first Bangladeshi carrier, while Maldivian has been operating flights on the route for several years, he added.
Initially, US-Bangla will operate three weekly flights on the Dhaka-Male-Dhaka route — on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays — as its 10th international route with a 164-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft to fulfill the long-standing expectations of Bangladeshi tourists and expatriate Bangladeshis living in Maldives.
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali inaugurated the flight at Dhaka airport as the chief guest while Maldivian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Shiruzimath Sameer was present as a special guest.
Mahbub Ali said apart from facilitating travel of expatriate Bangladeshis, the new direct flight will boost tourism sectors of both the countries.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the country’s aviation sector is expected to grow three-fold in the next 15 years and two new private carriers are set to start operations soon, the state minister added.
The minimum fare on the Dhaka-Male route, including all taxes and surcharges, has been fixed at Tk29,508 for a one-way trip and Tk45,545 including return.
US-Bangla Airlines MD said the carrier is offering a much cheaper fare to Male compared to other foreign airlines and it has a plan to launch a flight to Sri Lanka next month.
Currently, the US-Bangla fleet consists of 14 aircraft, including four Boeing 737-800s and seven brand new ATR 72-600s, and the carrier is likely to procure two more Boeing 737-800s within a few days.
US-Bangla operates flights to Dubai, Muscat, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Chennai, Kolkata and Guangzhou. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, flights to Bangkok are temporarily suspended.
US-Bangla also plans to launch flights to Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam soon.
Apart from international routes, US-Bangla operates flights to all seven domestic routes — from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Sylhet, Saidpur, Jessore, Rajshahi and Barisal.
Besides, US-Bangla operates flights from Jessore to Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar and from Saidpur to Chittagong.