The first direct flights from Manchester Airport to the cites of Dhaka and Sylhet in Bangladesh have taken off, and will begin to foster closer ties between Greater Manchester and Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s national airline will operate the routes from Manchester to Dhaka and Sylhet on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a flight time of 10 hours. The service will fly from Manchester to Dhaka via Sylhet with the return flight operating from the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka directly.
The three-times-a-week service launched by Biman Bangladesh Airlines follows a delegation led by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, in October which travelled to both Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, and Sylhet in the country’s North East.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both Andy Burnham, and the mayor of Sylhet. Representatives from Greater Manchester will return later in the year to share their expertise in areas such as infrastructure with the city.
Following that visit and the launch of the Biman flights, a series of further activities are planned to foster closer ties between Greater Manchester and Bangladesh. Delegations from Dhaka and Sylhet will visit Manchester to explore opportunities in a range of business, cultural and educational fields.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:
When I visited Bangladesh last year, one of the main missions for our trip was to re-establish a direct air connection between Manchester and Bangladesh. It is wonderful to see it actually starting service and we are confident that this link will bring trade, cultural and educational benefits to Greater Manchester and the rest of the country. Just as importantly, it should provide a vital travel route for the friends and families of people of Bangladeshi heritage living in Greater Manchester and further afield.
“I will never forget my first trip to Bangladesh and have agreed to set up new partnerships with my counterpart Mayors in Sylhet and Dhaka to focus on a wide range of development and trade issues as well as collaboration on tourism, sport and culture. I am certain that the growing cooperation between our cities and countries will only increase demand for this direct service.”
Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, is a vibrant megacity with over 20 million inhabitants in its wider urban area. It accounts for around 35% of the country’s economy and its Mughal-era Old Quarter is packed with historic and cultural sights.
Sylhet is the largest city in Bangladesh’s north-east, with 800,000 people living in its metropolitan area. Up to 300,000 people of Bangladeshi origin live in the North of England, with most hailing from the Sylhet region.
Biman’s Regional Manager, Debabrota Mallick, said:
“A direct flight from Manchester to Sylhet, and Manchester to Dhaka has been on our radar for quite some time. As part of our business strategy, our main focus has been to connect Manchester to both these thriving parts of Bangladesh. Not only was this due to high demand from the Bangladeshi community in the North, but we also saw a good opportunity to increase tourism and business potential which has been increasing year-on-year.
“After announcing the resumption of the Manchester flight, we saw the first two weeks of flights being completely sold out. We are very pleased to see such an amazing response, and more Bangladeshi passengers continuing to book through Biman Airlines.”
Passengers on the inaugural flight from Manchester to Bangladesh were greeted with a balloon arch and light refreshments at check-in. The festivities continued at the departure gate, with a traditional Bangladeshi dance performance and free gift bags given to passengers while they boarded.