Bangladesh national airline seeks strategic partner

DHAKA (XFNews-ASIA) - National carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines is looking for a strategic partner to revive its financial fortunes, a minister said. "We are seriously looking for strategic partners so that we can share

management and aircraft with a reputed airline to make Biman a

profitable corporation," junior civil aviation minister Mirza Fakhrul

Islam Alamgir told Agence France-Presse.

"We've seen Sri Lanka airlines are doing fine following its partnership with Emirates. We think we can also have a strategic partner like Sri Lankan because we have a very good market," Alamgir said.

SriLankan airlines is partly owned and fully managed by Dubai-based Emirates Airlines.

State-run Biman incurred a loss of around 41 mln usd last year as fuel costs soared and two accidents that saw a DC-10 and Fokker F-28 written off.

Biman currently has five DC-10 aircraft aged 20 years or older, four Airbus 310s bought in the early 1990s, and three Fokker F-28 aircraft that are mostly used for domestic and regional flights.

The minister said the carrier will soon procure two aircraft on lease and phase out all five DC-10s before September 2007.

Last October Biman's board approved a sale of a 61 pct stake in the company to private investors in an effort to raise money to buy new aircraft for its ageing fleet.