Bangladesh in the Little History of a Bus

37 AEC Swift Sparshatts Airport Bus (1972), photographed by Robert Knight from
37 AEC Swift Sparshatts Airport Bus (1972), photographed by Robert Knight from Royal Air Force Museum Cosford.

When I found out about Robert Knight, the recognition ‘lover of old cars’ actually gave an impression that he might love vintage cars, sedan or sports whatever. I certainly did not expect a bundle of airport bus photos, where eventually I found Bangladesh to be part of the little history of one particular bus.

A devastated Dhaka 'Kurmitola' airport at the closing stages of 1971 war. The photo was taken by an Indian Air Force recon aircraft just before the Pakistani surrender.
A devastated Dhaka ‘Kurmitola’ airport at the closing stages of 1971 war. The destruction was much caused by strategic allied bombing (Indian Air Force and Bangladeshi Air Force) to disable Pakistan’s capability to fight in air. The damaged highway is a result of 6 December bombing by IAF 14 Squadron (MiG21s). Before the day ended, almost all runways, air bases and airstrips within a certain radius of Dhaka suffered similar attacks and PAF was finally cutoff from being able to defend Dhaka in air. The photo was taken by an IAF recon aircraft just before the Pakistani surrender in December.

The photographed bus was built by Associated Equipment Company or AEC, makers of the epic London double-deckers, in 1972 for delivery to Bangladesh. It can be assumed that the batch was to be used in Tejgaon Airport, the then Dhaka International Airport. But the deal broke out midway and this particular carrier went to British Airways instead.

The photo is taken by Robert Knight from Royal Air Force Museum Cosford.

Severely war torn Bangladesh was underway massive reconstruction of her infrastructure those were ravaged by either Pakistani atrocities or Bangladeshi counteroffensive to drive the earlier out.

Stories call stories, eh?

Rise of commercial aviation particularly happened through the birth of Air Bangladesh International in January 1972, which was soon renamed to today’s Biman Bangladesh Airlines. The first flight of any Bangladeshi airline took place on 4 February, 1972, but suffered a hit within a week as the only carrier DC-3 crashed on 10 February.

This Fokker F-27 'Friendship'
This Fokker F-27 ‘Friendship’ is the fourth ever aircraft to enter service in Biman Bangladesh Airlines. It was sold to now-defunct (consolidated into British Airways) British Midland Airlines in 1982. Photo by LRS747 (1983).

The airline eventually went for domestic flights between Dhaka, Jessore, London and Chittagong, and went international through flights with London and Calcutta, now Kolkata.

So the need of supporting ground components can be understood and it can be assumed that this AEC airport carrier was to be brought as part of that. Someday I might find out why the deal broke out and busses built for Bangladesh could not be delivered to Bangladesh.

The AEC by the way is the historic British bus maker that holds the backstage of the much iconic London double-decker. The company started as London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) in the mid-nineteenth century, got the name in the beginning of the last century, got taken over by partner company British Leyland in 1977, which itself dissolved after getting taken over by Rover Group in 1986.

AEC’s succeeding organs in the modern day can be found to be jointly owned by Germany’s BMW, China’s Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and India’s Tata Motors.

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