Sk Hasina reiterates her call to turn BD into regional air hub

- Raquib Siddiqi01 Nov, 2019 | 1526 Views|-+
Dhaka : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated her call to turn Bangladesh into a regional air hub. She made similar call several years ago, but strangely, follow-up actions to materialise the call, yet to come.

Speaking as the chief guest at the closing ceremony of three-day sixth seminar on "International Flight Safety" at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, the Prime Minister cited geographical location of Bangladesh and said that the location can play an important role, in turning the country as air bridge between the East and the West of the world.

"We can be benefitted economically. International passengers can travel to their destinations in a short time. Keeping that in mind, we are developing our airports," she said.

The seminar was jointly organised by Bangladesh Air Force and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon with the theme "Team Effort Can Ensure Team Safety."

Development projects

Sheikh Hasina said that the government is working to enhance Bangladesh's air connectivity with rest of the world.

Highlighting various projects taken by her government for the development of civil aviation, the prime minister said, "We are implementing a project to turn Cox's Bazar Airport into an International one, expanding its runway into 12,000ft."

She said the present government is going to construct one more international airport in Bagerhat district, adding, "We are working to make Saidpur Airport a regional hub for further strengthening connectivity with neighbouring countries - India, Bhutan and Nepal."

In this context, she also said, "After assuming office for the first time, we have upgraded Sylhet and Chattogram airports as the international ones."

Noting that her government has taken a number of measures to make air trip accessible, comfortable and safe, she said "The government is constructing third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Upon completion of the terminal, it will be possible to provide service to approximately 12 million passengers per year which is two and a half times more than that of the existing capacities."

The premier said Awami League government has also enacted Civil Aviation Authority Act, 2017 to upgrade the civil aviation.

"Our steps will provide comforts to air travellers and also help to create new air routes in the days to come. As a result, we are optimistic for faster growth of our tourism industry," she stated.

The premier said, "When we came into power again in 2009, we concentrated on capacity building for manufacture, maintenance and overhauling of various types of aircraft and other equipment," she added.

"We have procured 10 passenger carriers in the last 10 years, which include four B-787 Dreamliners, two 737 and four 777 from Boeing, she said and added, "We are preparing to procure two more aircraft."

"These most modern aircraft are suitable for carrying long distance flights for example from Dhaka to New York, Toronto, Sydney etc and we are eager to do that. Keeping this in mind, our civil aviation authority has been working faster to upgrade it as a category-1 authority," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the declaration of civil aviation in Bangladesh, as Category 1 is just a matter of time under the International Safety Assessment Program by the US Federal Aviation Authority.

Mentioning that Bangabandhu Aeronautical Centre was established in 2011, she said, "We are expecting that all types of aircrafts both civil and military will be fixed at this centre shortly. State of the Art 3D Helicopter Simulator has already been inducted in BAF to ensure realistic training of our pilots."

On establishment of an aviation university, the premier said, "We passed a bill in the parliament on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University on February 28, 2019."

"We are going to establish the university in Lalmonirhat with a goal to develop skilled human resources in aviation sector…this institute will start its world class academic function shortly," she added.

Flight safety

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the authorities concerned to ensure safe flying and maintenance of the aircrafts in order for bringing down occurrence of airplane accidents, describing flight operating as a highly technical profession.

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

Mentioning that there is no alternative to professional skills and honesty to this end, the premier said, "Operating airplane is highly technical profession in which expertise is a must. This professionalism brings confidence for people concerned and simultaneously brings glory and honour for the organisations."

The premier expected that the participants of local-foreign as well as military-civil agencies with their rich experience and knowledge gathered from the seminar would be able to identify different challenges for improving flight safety standards which help to curb airplane accidents.

"Our national agencies have been benefitted from the opinion exchange programme, which would greatly help them to ensure flight safety in our country," she opined.

The three-day long International Flight Safety Seminar jointly organised by Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) and Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel Dhaka on October 21. Information Minister of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Dr Hasan Mahmud, MP inaugurated the seminar as the Chief Guest.

The aim of the seminar was to bridge the perspective on flight safety challenges of both civil and military community since the airspace is used jointly. The theme of the seminar is "Team effort can ensure team safety".

Military representatives from USA, Italy, China, Malaysia, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Morocco, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh took part in the seminar. This year for the first time two regional members of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) participated during the seminar.

Representatives from Ministry of Defence, 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 civil airlines of Bangladesh participated in the seminar. This International seminar was held from Oct 21-23 under the arrangement of BAF and CAAB.

Participants of 16 Air Forces from different countries of four continents and representative from International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) took part in the seminar.

Air Chief Marshal Masihuzza-man Serniabat and Air Vice Marshal (AVM) M Mafidur Rahman, among others, spoke on the occasion.

Facility update a must

From realistic point of view, it must be said that to make Bangladesh a regional air hub, first we must update all aviation infra-structure and offer those at a competitive cost to the regional market.

Globally, airports and air transport industry is large, innovative and has excellent prospects. Moreover, the industry is in the midst of substantial organisational and technical changes that are redefining the practice of airport. Bangladesh must now address the current trend and execute plan to adopt those.

Advances in technology and digital transformation are bringing possibilities to airports, yet also creating new demands from customers and added cost pressures. Despite operational complexity and cost transparency continuously increasing, airports always put safety first.

While forecasts predict a bright future, airports and airlines today face a mixed bag of opportunities and challenges. IATA says air traffic will double and grow at 3.8 per cent annually to reach seven billion passengers per year by 2034.

So, to translate the call of Sheikh Hasina into reality the importance of civil aviation must be recognised and the civil aviation services must be upgraded from existing primitive system.

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