All economy seats and budget meals are the key strategy of the low-cost carriers to win the air travel market of Bangladesh. Such an approach has reduced the cost of travel, mainly to different regional destinations such as Dubai or Sri Lanka.
When the question of low fare comes, many may raise eyebrows whether the services are as good as the plush airlines offer, or whether they are capable of satisfying the guests with enough entertainments.
Also many may ask why they charge less than others.
But, low-cost airlines steal the march on other conventional airlines these days. They use same category aircraft and crew with low maintenance and fuel costs, short-haul flights, limited onboard services like food and beverage.
Also they offer flexibility of fare on baggage weight. For example, one would only pay when they carry luggage and if they want meals.
“Otherwise it’s just the airfare that one has to pay. For example, when a person goes as a migrant labourer, usually he or she doesn’t have any bigger luggage. So there’s no point to charge them a few extra dollars,” said Ismail R Chowdhury, managing director of Sky Air Services Ltd, general sales agent of Flydubai.
“In addition, we have only economy seats; we don’t have business class at our carrier. And we don’t include free meals within the fare, but if someone wants to have a meal, they have to pay $5 for that,” he said.
“We have created an option to ease the fare that we are hoping will benefit our migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates. They will feel less burdened if they can save only even $5-$10 for a one way trip,” he added.
Flydubai, a sister concern of Emirates, launched its operation at Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport on January 17.
The carrier charges $125 including taxes for one-way fare to Chittagong from Dubai, while the fare is $200 for flying from Chittagong to Dubai. And the fares also include one piece of hand luggage weighing up to 7 kg for free.
“The Chittagong service gives our passengers even greater travel flexibility when it becomes a daily service in March,” added Chowdhury.
He said the carrier is set to start flights from Dhaka from February 14.
At present, the carrier flies four times a week from Dubai to Chittagong on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Chowdhury claimed that they can make use of 85 percent of their carrying capacity on each flight.
Also, another budget airline, Air Arabia that started its operation in Bangladesh on June 2008, offers Middle East-bound Bangladeshi workers travel at a lower price.
Another low-cost carrier of Sri Lanka, Mihin Lanka, lunched direct flights to Dhaka on December 12 last year.
“This is the first-ever direct flight between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. We hope that this initiative will enhance business and leisure travel between these two countries,” said Kazi Zahurul Qyyum, director of Wings Aviation Ltd, the GSA of Mihin Lanka.
Mihin Lanka charges $450 for a Dhaka-Colombo-Dhaka trip, while the fare would be $510 for a Dhaka-Colombo-Male-Dhaka trip, including all taxes. The flights operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, he added.
He also said the carrier has 177 all economy class seats and offers budget meal during the journey.