Flights to JFK airport in New York will begin again from Birmingham next year for the first time in a decade as part of a double boost from the £40 million runway extension.
The airport last served JFK in 2003, but there will now be twice-weekly flights as soon as the extension is completed in April.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines will operate the flights, and will also put on twice-weekly flights to Dhaka in Bangladesh – a first for the city, and only made possible by the extension, which makes more far-flung parts of the world accessible.
Birmingham Airport’s chief executive Paul Kehoe said the new flights highlighted the demand outside the South East and reflecting growing trade with Bangladesh, which is underdeveloped but growing at six per cent a year.
He said: “The Midlands is a diverse region that offers enormous trade and cultural opportunities to carriers looking to widen links outside of the South East, and this is exactly the type of operation that our longer runway has been built to cater for.
“With a growing number of long-haul flights launching from Birmingham, we’re clearly demonstrating the desire by airlines to operate to and from the Midlands and take advantage of our strong catchment, excellent location and transport links, and world class facilities, all available thanks to our major investment programme.”
Birmingham will become only the third UK airport to have direct flights to New York JFK and offer the only non-stop service between the UK and Bangladesh outside of London.
BA flew to JFK between 1993 and 1998, before axing the flights, and they returned for a five-month period in 2003 with Uzbekistan Airlines.
The new flights will complement Birmingham Airport’s current daily scheduled flight to New York Newark Airport.
Flights will be on sale early in the New Year with launch fares starting from £100 plus taxes each way between Birmingham and JFK and £150 plus taxes each way between Birmingham and Dhaka.
Biman Bangladesh, the country’s National Flag carrier, came on board after the 400 metre runway extension made it possible to operate the flights on a Boeing 777 aircraft, which offers business and economy seating.
It allows aircraft to fly an extra 2,000 nautical miles from Birmingham, to reach destinations in the Far East, South America and the west coast of the US directly. The Midlands has the UK’s second largest Bangladeshi community outside of London, home to more than 50,000 people from Bangladeshi origin.
Kevin Steele, managing director and chief executive of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said he saw demand for the flights growing.
He said: “Birmingham’s strong Bangladeshi community, new transit and terminal facilities and of course its extended runway capability that will allow us to fly direct from Dhaka next year were all key factors that attracted us to this new venture.
“We also recognise the many opportunities to build business and cultural links between Dhaka, Birmingham and New York and see how successful other long-haul routes have been in recent years from Birmingham.”
Dhaka is one of the world’s biggest cities in terms of population, with 15 million people living there.
Bangladesh, traditionally seen as a textiles hub, has a population of more than 160 million and was listed in JP Morgan’s “Frontier Five” economies it expects to emerge in coming years.