Monday, 6 February, 2023

Air Astra Formally Launched

Aviation growth to triple in 15 years

Says state minister for civil aviation and tourism

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 16 November, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Aviation growth to triple in 15 years
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali inaugurates the Air Astra by cutting a cake at the domestic terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the capital on Tuesday.

State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali said the growth will be tripled in the aviation sector in the next 15 years.

  “In the past 10 years the growth in the aviation sector doubled. Transportation of passengers and cargo has increased 10 percent during this period. And the growth of the sector will be tripled in the next 15 years,” he said.

The state minister was addressing an event of newly-launched private airlines Air Astra titled "Introducing Air Astra" at Hazrat  Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Tuesday.

He said if this potential growth can be used properly, huge employment opportunities will be created and the country will see massive socio-economic development. Md Mahbub Ali hoped that the quality of

service would increase through the new airlines.

 Responding to a question from reporters, he claimed that the state-owned Biman Bangladesh Airlines was making profit.

  “I can assure you that Biman is making profit. It is true that it has some debts but the airline has to move forward with all these issues,” he said.

Asked about Civil Aviation Authorities of Bangladesh (CAAB) and Biman’s opposite stance on waiving surcharge, the state minister said CAAB has no scope of waiving surcharge as it solely depends on the Ministry of Finance.

Talking about four of Biman’s staff members and officials who went to London to get on board a VVIP flight without any security clearance, he said a probe will be launched to find out how they got permission.

 “Biman doesn’t select crew or other members for VVIP flights. The Special Security Force (SSF) determines who will run or who will get on board a VVIP flight. We will investigate the matter and we will punish responsible people, if found guilty,” Md Mahbub Ali said.

While answering a question regarding the question paper leak of Biman’s recruitment test, he said, "The question paper leak is a crime and the perpetrators behind this will surely face the music."

 “It is a serious crime and we will not spare the people behind this incident. You have seen that we have cancelled the recruitment test six hours before the scheduled time,” the state minister said, adding that news on this shouldn’t harm a commercial enterprise.

Later, the state minister also launched the Air Astra website.

Addressing the event, CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman expected that Air Astra will play a key role for ensuring quality passenger service.

 “I request Air Astra authorities to seriously look into passenger service. You can go further than others through passenger service. Air Astra will be successful in their operations if they focus on increasing the quality of passenger service and safety.”

He assured that CAAB will always extend its hands for necessary assistance to the new airline.

In his welcome address, Air Astra Chief Executive Officer Imran Asif said they are committed to ensuring quality passenger service so that Air Astra can earn the trust of passengers as the most preferred and reliable airline.

 “Apart from adding ATR 72-600 aircraft to our fleet, we have concentrated on the safety and security of our passengers. Before starting operating flights we have conducted an international standard safety audit and established a modern training centre,” he said.

He said that they will launch flights on international routes soon.

Though it was inaugurated on Tuesday, Air Astra is going to start operating commercial flights from November 24. The country’s new airline will spread its wings in the sky by flying from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar at 8:00 am on that day.

Currently, Biman Bangladesh Airlines and US Bangla are operating flights on domestic and international routes while NovoAir only operates on domestic routes. 

Initially Air Astra will operate three flights on Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar-Dhaka route and two flights on Dhaka-Chittagong-Dhaka route.

Air Astra will operate flights on all domestic routes in phases.

The minimum one-way fare from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar has been fixed at Tk4,799 and the minimum one-way fare from Dhaka to Chittagong is set at Tk 3,694.

According to Air Astra, the airline has a total of 2 ATR 72-600 aircraft to its fleet to carry 70 passengers

However, the airways will add two more aircraft within this year and is also planning to increase its fleet to 10 aircraft by 2023.