Wait for Fly Dhaka, Air Astra lengthens
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) has decided not to grant permission to any new airlines to operate flights from Dhaka due to a shortage of space at the terminal and apron areas at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA).
So, it is delaying the process to give air operator's certificate (AOC) to Air Astra and Fly Dhaka, two new private airlines, causing a delay for them to begin operating flights, M Mafidur Rahman, chairman of the Caab, told The Daily Star.
Aircraft at the country's biggest airport has been facing space shortage at the terminal and apron areas since the lone runway has remained closed from 12:00am to 8:00am every day from December 10.
The move is aimed at paving the way for the construction and expansion of taxiways for the two existing terminals.
The eight-hour suspension is already causing disruptions in flight schedule and passenger handling. Officials of various airlines operating to and from the HSIA say they are finding it very difficult to operate flights on time due to the prevailing situation.
Mismanagement and chaotic situation prevails everywhere at the airport, including inside and outside the terminal, airlines' check-in counters, immigration, baggage loading and unloading, and boarding bridges as the authorities have failed to ensure facilities to cope the situation, they say.
HSIA officials also admitted that they are struggling to deal with the tight new schedule.
Around 110 to 115 flights of 28 airlines are now operating to and from the HSIA, carrying 20,000 to 21,000 passengers during the reduced travel time.
Mafidur Rahman said amid the present situation, they are not giving permission to any new airlines to operate from the airport.
"Once the situation becomes normal after the completion of the construction and expansion of the taxiways, we will consider the matter."
Fly Dhaka and Air Astra have already secured the no-objection certificate from the Caab. But they are yet to get the AOC.
Rahman says they have asked the two new airlines to go slow to complete formalities, including procurement of aircraft.
"We have already told them that they can operate flights in other domestic destinations rather than in Dhaka."
Imran Asif, chief executive officer of Air Astra, which receive the NOC in November, says the process to lease three ATR 72-600 aircraft is at the final stage.
Anisul Islam Mahmud, a lawmaker of the Jatiya Party and managing director of Fly Dhaka, says they are waiting for the AOC.
The two new airlines will take the number of private operators in Bangladesh to four. US-Bangla and Novoair currently operate flights.
Air Astra has unveiled the livery of its initial fleet of ATR 72-600 aircraft.
The warm yellow that Air Astra has chosen as the predominant colour to reflect the happiness and optimism that the airline wishes to bring forth in air travelling is boldly used on the livery, accentuated by the grey that reinforces the airline's attention to class and quality, according to the company.
Fly Dhaka Airlines Ltd aims to make flying accessible and affordable for all and to establish itself as a world-class airline. The company says it has the best professionals.
Led by Anisul Islam Mahmud, a reputed entrepreneur who has set up several industries, and with Mollah Fazle Akbar as its chief executive officer, the airline hopes to progress rapidly and hold a major position in Bangladesh's aviation industry.
Initially, Fly Dhaka will operate on the domestic routes before expanding to international destinations.