Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged air passengers including very important persons (VIPs) to abide by existing security rules and regulations of the airports of the country, issuing a strong warning that errant passengers will be barred from boarding aircraft in future for violating the laws.
“We’ve given special attention to the security of our airports … all passengers will have to accept the existing international security rules and regulations (of the airports),” she said.
She went on saying: “The ministers, parliament members, chiefs of the armed forces and other senior officials are present here. We’ve to ensure security of the airports in the way it is maintained in airports abroad.”
The prime minister said all will have to abide by the security rules and regulations of the airports and none can violate it. “If anyone try to break the laws, he or she will be prevented from boarding the plane in future … I’ll do it, and all will have to keep this in mind,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said this while inaugurating the much-awaited construction work of Taka 21,300 crore ‘Third Terminal’ of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital this morning.
From the same function, she also opened Bangladesh Biman’s two new Dreamliner aircraft Boeing 787-9 named ‘Sonar Tori’ and ‘Achin Pakhi’ as well as a new mobile app of the national flag carrier.
Sheikh Hasina said: “I’m working throughout the day for the country, and try to enquire about what happens where. So, news comes to me immediately if any irregularity or deviation takes place anywhere … everybody will have to bear it in mind.”
The prime minister also asked the authorities concerned to look after the facilities of the air passengers and stay alert so that they are not harassed in anyway.
“Our reserve is increasing day by day due to Bangladeshi workers who are working abroad. But when they return home, they become victims of harassment (in airports) in various ways,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina added: “Though the extent of harassment has reduced to a great extent. I’ll say that their facilities will have to be looked after,
and special attention will have to be given so they don’t become victims of harassment in the airports.”
The prime minister instructed the Biman authorities to work more sincerely to increase the reputation of the national flag carrier internationally.
“In the past there was a problem that tickets were not available but the aircraft is empty. Such many things would have happened,” she said.
Referring to smuggling of gold through Biman aircraft, Sheikh Hasina mentioned that she once upon a time jokingly said: Biman becomes “swarnaprosobini” as gold bars are recovered from it.
“It must be stopped and efforts will have to be made so that Biman’s reputation is enhanced further,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has been working to raise passenger services of Biman in other countries. “We can make ‘code sharing’ with other airlines and through it, we can send passengers to many stations abroad … we’ll do it in future,” The prime minister also urged all concerned including passengers to give special attention to proper maintenance of aircraft of Biman.
“Not only purchasing the aircraft, all will have to remain aware so that the planes run properly … the passengers will also have to be caring as the aircraft are ours and they are bought by our own money,” she said.
Pointing out her government’s plan to procure cargo planes for Biman, Sheikh Hasina said the organisation will not be profitable without it.
The prime minister said her government is taking steps to further develop internal communication system. “When our government first assumed office in 1996, we created scope for the private airlines to operate their planes and now many private airlines are involved in the sector,” she said.
“We’ve created such a scope. But alongside it, we want Biman to have its own arrangements. To ensure passenger service, it’s not proper to leave it completely to the private sector,” she said.
Keeping this in mind, she said, three Dash aircrafts are coming from Canada which will be operated on domestic routes.
Sheikh Hasina said Biman Bangladesh Airlines which was on the verge of extinction was reorganized freshly. “Today I inaugurated two Boeing 787 Dreamliners of the national flag carrier through which 12 new aircraft were added to its fleet,” she said.
Highlighting the background of construction of the third terminal of HSIA, the prime minister said the Civil Aviation Authority in 2014 framed the master plan and appointed a consulting firm for conducting a feasibility study in this regard.
As per the study, she said, necessity of constructing the third terminal and runway and development of cargo facilities were felt for meeting the increased demand of passengers and goods transportation.
Sheikh Hasina said against this backdrop, the government took a decision to execute the “Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Project” with the Japan government’s loan assistance to meet the future air transport demand and ensure global standard security through different infrastructural development including construction of the new third terminal.
The prime minister hoped that the construction of the third terminal will be completed in the next four years. “The terminal with all passenger facilities will be the most modern and beautiful one like the developed airport of the world,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the annual passenger capacity of the present airport is 80 lakh. “But with the completion of the third terminal, 1.20 crore more passengers will be brought under the services of the airport,” she said.
International routes will be increased and new destinations will be linked with Bangladesh’s air routes, she said, adding massive employment will also be created and the country’s overall economy will be strengthened further.
The prime minister said considering the matter, the scheme has been added to the ongoing Sustainable Development Goals.
She said: “Our activities are not only limited to Dhaka. The work on upgrading Cox’s Bazar Airport to an international one is underway.”
Sheikh Hasina said the government upgraded Sylhet MAG Osmani Airport to an international airport through expansion of its runway.
Besides, the construction works of Khan Jahan Ali Airport in Bagerhat as well as the development work of Chattogram Shah Amanat International Airport and Syedpur Airport are underway.
Through these development programmes, expansion of air connectivity and tourism will be made across the country and the people of the entire country will enjoy its benefit.
Sheikh Hasina said the flight frequencies of airlines in Bangladesh on commercial basis has increased manifold due to infrastructural development and rise of capability.
The premier said the government has taken initiatives to purchase modern equipment including RADAR to enhance capacity of Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority.
Reiterating her government’s firm stance against terrorism, militancy, corruption and drugs, the prime minister said none will be spared if he or she is indulged in graft.
“We’ve launched drives to root out terrorism, militancy, corruption and narcotics … we will not spare anybody whoever might be for this crime,” she said.
“We (the government) and the people will continue work for the development of the country by giving hard labour day and night. But the uplift work will not be made for some people as they will change their own fate through dishonest way — it won’t happen and not be tolerated,” Sheikh Hasina asserted.
She continued: “We want to build a developed and prosperous Bangladesh as dreamt by Bangabandhu by stamping out these social menaces.” Sheikh Hasina on behalf of the people of Bangladesh extended her heartiest thanks to the Japan government and JICA for staying beside the development of the aviation sector.
At the outset of her speech, the prime minister extended New Year greetings to all.
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali presided over the ceremony while Parliamentary Standing Committee on Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Chairman RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury and Senior Secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Md Mohibul Haque spoke.
Japanese Ambassador Naoki Ito, Chief Representative of Bangladesh Office of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Hitoshi Hirata and Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mofidur Rahman also addressed the programme.