Regional air hub plan for Bangladesh restated by PM Sheikh Hasina

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Honorable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina has made call about making Bangladesh a regional air hub several years ago

Honorable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina has made call about making Bangladesh a regional air hub several years ago but pursue up actions to emerge the call is yet to come.

The prime minister cited Bangladesh’s geographic location and said the location could play an important role in turning the country into an air bridge between the east and west of the world, speaking as the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the sixth three-day seminar on “International Flight Safety” at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel.

She said, “We will benefit from economic benefits. In a short time, foreign travelers can fly to their destinations. Keeping that in mind, we are expanding our airports.”

Bangladesh Air Force and the Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB) jointly organized the seminar with the theme “Team Effort Must Ensure Team Security” at the Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon.

Development projects

Sheik Hasina said the government is working to improve air connectivity between Bangladesh and the rest of the world.

Emphasizing various projects taken by her government for civil aviation development, the Prime Minister said, “We are implementing a project to turn Cox’s Bazar Airport into an International Airport, expanding its runway to 12,000 ft.”

She said that the current government will establish another international airport in the district of Bagerhat, adding, “We are working to make Saidpur Airport a regional hub to further improve connectivity with neighboring countries-India, Bhutan and Nepal.”

She also said, “After assuming office for the first time, we have upgraded Sylhet and Chattogram airports as the international ones.”

Noting that taken a number of steps her government has taken to make air travel available, comfortable and safe, she said “The government is building the third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. On completion of the terminal, it will be possible to provide service to approximately 12 million passengers per year, two and a half times higher than the current facility.

Civil Aviation Authority Act, 2017 was enacted by the Awami League government to upgrade the civil aviation.

“Our measures will provide air passengers with convenience and will also help create new air routes in the days ahead. As a result, we are hopeful for our tourism industry’s faster growth,” she said.

The Premier said, “Once we came back to power in 2009, we focused on building capacity to manufacture, repair and upgrade different aircraft and other equipment types,” she said.

“Over the past 10 years, we have procured 10 passenger carriers, including four B-787 Dreamliners, two Boeing 737s and four 777s, she said and added and we are preparing to procure two more aircraft.”

“These most modern aircraft are ideal for carrying long-distance flights, for example, from Dhaka to New York, Toronto, Sydney and so on, and we are keen to do so. Keeping this in mind, our civil aviation authority worked harder to elevate it as a category 1 jurisdiction,” she said.

Sheik Hasina said the Bangladesh Civil Aviation declaration as category 1 is just a matter of time under the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority’s Global Security Assessment Program.

Referring to the establishment of the Bangabandhu Aeronautical Center in 2011, she said, “We expect all types of civil and military aircraft to be installed in this center in the near future. State of the Art 3D Helicopter Simulator has already been introduced in BAF to ensure realistic training for our pilots.”

On setting up an aviation school, the Prime Minister said, “On February 28, 2019, we passed a parliamentary bill on Bangabandhu Sheik Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace School.”

“We will establish the university in Lalmonirhat with the goal of developing skilled human resources in the aviation sector, this institute will soon begin its academic world-class function,” she added.

Flight safety

Prime Minister Sheik Hasina called on the authorities concerned to ensure safe flight and aircraft maintenance to reduce the occurrence of aircraft accidents, describing flight operations as a highly technical occupation.

“You must all ensure the utmost care for the safe flight and maintenance of the aircraft purchased from hard-earned revenue and foreign currency,” she said as the chief guest at the closing ceremony of a three-day sixth seminar on “International Flight Safety” at a city hotel.

Stating that there is no substitute to this reason for professional knowledge and honesty, the Premier said, “Operating aircraft is a highly skilled career in which competence is a must. This professionalism gives trust to the individuals involved and brings pride and prestige to the organizations at the same time.”

The Premier hoped that participants from both local-foreign and military-civil organizations should be able to recognize numerous problems with their rich expertise and information gained from the seminar to strengthen flight safety standards that help curb aircraft accidents.

“The opinion exchange program has benefitted our national authorities, which would greatly assist them in ensuring flight safety in our country,” she said.

On October 21, at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel Dhaka, the three-day International Flight Safety Seminar organized jointly by the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) and the Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB). The seminar was inaugurated by the Chief Guest, Information Minster of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Dr. Hasan Mahmud, MP.

The seminar’s aim was to cross the viewpoint of both the civil and military community’s flight safety issues as the airspace is used together. The seminar theme is “Team effort will ensure the safety of the group”.

The conference was attended by military representatives from the United States, Italy, China, Malaysia, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Two regional members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) attended the seminar for the first time this year.

The seminar was attended by representatives from the Bangladesh Defense Ministry, Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, Armed Forces Division (AFD), Bangladesh Police, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd, Bangladesh Flying Academy, Padma Oil Company, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, MIST and other Bangladesh civil airlines. Under the arrangement of BAF and CAAB, this International seminar was held from Oct 21-23.

Speaking on the occasion, among others, Air Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat and Air Vice Marshal (AVM) M Mafidur Rahman.

Facility update

It must be said, from a practical point of view, that in order to make Bangladesh a global air hub, we must first upgrade the entire air infrastructure and give it to the regional market at a reasonable price.

Globally, there are large, innovative and excellent prospects for the airports and air transport industry. In addition, the industry is in the midst of significant organizational and technical changes that redefine the airport practice. Bangladesh now needs to tackle the current trends and develop a strategy to embrace them.

Advances in technology and digital transformation provide airports with opportunities, but also create new customer demands and added cost pressures. Despite continuously increasing operational complexity and cost transparency, airports always put safety first.

While forecasts predict a bright future, today a mixed bag of opportunities and challenges are faced by airports and airlines. IATA predicts that by 2034, air traffic will double and rise at 3.8% per year to hit seven billion passengers per year.

Therefore, in order to translate Sheik Hasina’s call into reality, it is necessary to recognize the importance of civil aviation and to upgrade civil aviation services from the existing primitive system.