The managing director and CEO of Biman Bangladesh Airlines (BG, Dhaka) has pledged to turn the country's national airline into a "smart airline," with aspirations to take it into the very top ranks of Asia's airlines. Shafiul Azim made the promise on January 3, 2023, as part of the country's Smart Bangladesh strategy.

"We have made a pledge to make Biman a smart airline in the forthcoming era of Smart Bangladesh," he told Dhaka-based media last week at an event marking the airline's 51st birthday. Recently launched by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Smart Bangladesh is a 20-year program that seeks to bridge the digital divide by innovating and scaling sustainable digital solutions which all Bangladeshi businesses and citizens can benefit from. The program focuses on four pillars - smart citizens, smart government, smart economy, and smart society.

Azim cites accountability, transparency, and good governance at Biman Bangladesh Airlines as top-tier priorities to help transform the state-owned airline. He also says upskilling flight crews, ground workers, and front and back office employees was part of an existing work plan that would contribute to the smart airline strategy.

According to ch-aviation PRO airlines data, Biman Bangladesh Airlines flies to 29 destinations in 15 countries with a fleet of 21 aircraft, including six B737-800s, four B777-300ERs, four B787-8s, two B787-9s, and five DHC-8-Q400s. Azim told media that the airline made a profit of BDT4.36 billion taka (USD42.7 million) in the 12 months to June 30, 2022, but ch-aviation has also recently reported that the airline has asked for a waiver on accrued fees and interest on a BDT21 billion (USD205.7 million) fuel bill payable to the state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation but with no apparent means to pay it.

Speaking to the media. Azim focused on talking about improving customer service aspects at Biman Bangladesh Airlines, such as increasing the capacity of the airline's 24-hour call centre, improving digital services for ticketing, and concentrating on customer pain points like flight reliability. The CEO has an interim ambition of pushing his airline into the ranks of Asia's top carriers, and ultimately, becoming a top three carrier.

Meanwhile, he also cited the in-house C-checks recently conducted on Biman Bangladesh's fleet of B787s as a good example of the carrier cutting its operational costs. Azim said the checks on five aircraft were done recently at their own hangar in Dhaka, saving the airline BDT200 million (USD19.6 million) in the process.