July 13, 2024

Biman Bangladesh Airlines Faces Sanction Hurdles for New Rome Route

Plans by Biman Bangladesh Airlines to revive its service between Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Rome’s Fiumicino Airport are encountering geopolitical challenges. The airline’s intentions to operate through Iranian airspace have sparked complications due to US sanctions on Iran.

Biman asserts that as part of standard international aviation regulations, flights passing over Iran necessitate payment of overflight fees and air traffic control charges to Iranian authorities. However, such payments are currently prohibited under Western sanctions against Iran.

A senior official at Biman informed The Daily Star that the US is obstructing their ability to make overflying charge payments to Iran, citing sanctions as the rationale. The official expressed concern that failure to meet these payments would lead to Iran denying airspace access to Biman. Already, some funds have been remitted to Iran, and the US objections are complicating matters further.

Should Iranian airspace be inaccessible, Biman will have to resort to an alternate route, increasing the flight duration by approximately one-and-a-half hours. The original route through Iran would have facilitated a nine-hour journey to Rome, but the alternative would extend it to around 10 hours and 30 minutes. This redirection would also escalate costs for Biman due to increased fuel consumption and additional overflight charges. Consequently, the airline anticipates the necessity of adjusting fares to offset these expenses, potentially undermining the route’s economic feasibility.

Biman had planned a flight path traversing Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Bosnia for its Dhaka-Rome operations. The airline had commenced ticket sales for flights set to resume on March 26, 2024, coinciding with Bangladesh’s Independence Day.

Photo Source:www.planespotters.net

Flight BG355 was scheduled to depart Dhaka for Rome every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 02:00 local time until March 31, 2024. From April 1, the departure time would shift to 03:00 as per the summer schedule. Return flights (BG356) would leave Rome at 10:45, landing in Dhaka at 23:45. Biman intended to operate these flights using its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which constitute a significant portion of its fleet.

The resumption of flights to Rome marks a revival of a route that Biman had operated since 1981 before discontinuing it in 2015 due to sustained financial losses.

In response to inquiries about the US sanctions issue, the Biman official conveyed that they had notified the US through the foreign ministry but had not received any response yet.

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