Although Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national flag carrier of Bangladesh, was scheduled to launch direct flight operations on the Dhaka-Toronto route on 26 March, it has been delayed till June.
However, a test commercial flight will be operated on 26 March in which government officials will take part, said State Minister for civil aviation and tourism Md Mahbub Ali in a press briefing at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in the capital on Thursday.
The Canadian High Commission in Bangladesh, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism and Biman Bangladesh Airlines jointly organised the press event.
State Minister Mahbub Ali said the first ever test commercial flight on the Dhaka-Toronto route will depart from Dhaka at 11:30 pm (local time) on 26 March and will reach Toronto Pearson International Airport at 7:15 am (local time) in Canada next day.
The return flight will leave Toronto at 10 am (local time) on 29 March and will reach Dhaka at 12:15 pm (local time) on 30 March, he said, adding that the state-of-the-art Boeing 789 Dreamliner aircraft of Biman will be used in the flight operation.
The state minister also said, "After completing some additional technical works, we are hoping that Biman will be able to operate regular commercial flights three days a week from June."
The test flight will cost Tk4 crore. Responding to a query whether it was really necessary, the state minister said, "It is very important for us to operate such a flight with Canada at this time. Many countries in the world are not able to do it."
Dr Mahbub Jahan Khan, director of Corporate Planning and Training, said the flight (ticket booking was available till Thursday afternoon) will carry 36 commercial passengers. Besides, some 19 passengers have booked tickets for the return flight.
"We never said all tickets have been sold out. Some 120 to 130 passengers can travel on the flight. When we launch scheduled flights in June, about 220 to 230 passengers will be able to travel per flight," Mahbub said.
Dr Mahbub, however, declined to answer a question on how many government officials will be travelling on the test flight.
Canadian high commissioner to Bangladesh Lilly Nicholls also spoke at the press conference.