Next int’l aviation hub will be here
Dhaka or Cox's Bazar airport will become the next international aviation hub due to favourable geographical location, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said at the soft launch of the iconic Terminal-3 of the capital's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
She partially opened the terminal, designed by celebrated architect Rohani Bahrin, by unveiling a plaque at the HSIA with the slogan "Connecting dreams to reality".
Architect Rohani, who was present at the soft launch, told the media, "The third terminal designed based on the six seasons of Bangladesh. The terminal was built with a mix of heritage and modernity."
Taken up at a cost of Tk 21,398 crore, the third terminal is one of the major mega projects of the Awami League government. It was finished around seven months ahead of schedule, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).
Covering an area of 542,000 square metres, the third terminal will have a floor space of 230,000 square metres, housing 115 check-in counters, 66 departure immigration desks, 59 arrival immigration desks and three VIP immigration desks.
The third terminal will be fully operational for passengers' use at the end of next year after completion of systems integration and calibration.
Its 12 boarding gates, with double entry bridges, will be operational by next year, while an additional 14 boarding bridges are expected to be installed afterwards.
Saying Bangladesh would soon become the international aviation hub through the upgradation of the country's aviation sector, the PM in her speech said, "Once Hong Kong was the international aviation hub and then Singapore took its place. Now, Dubai has become the new hub … I believe Bangladesh will be the new hub as it is in between air routes of the East and West.
"The foreign airlines will land either at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport or Cox's Bazar International Airport for refueling."
Hasina added that all the major airports -- in Dhaka, Cox's Bazar, Sylhet and Chattogram – are being expanded and modernised.
"The government has also taken measures to strengthen inter-district air connectivity for tourism to flourish.
"Besides, steps have been taken to install pipelines to bring jet fuel directly to the Dhaka airport, which will save time and money while also protecting the environment."
The premier further said the government, with the assistance of France, is going to set up a modern radar system to ensure air communication security.
"The government will also build a second runway at the Dhaka airport," she said.
Meanwhile, she said, a masterplan has been prepared to ensure improved services at the airports for which consultants have also already been appointed.
Amid applause, she further said Bangladesh will one day step onto the moon like its neighbouring countries.
"The government had established the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University [BSMRAAU] in Lalmonirhat to help achieve it."
After her speech, Hasina toured the terminal while being briefed about the various international-standard facilities of the establishment.
She also took part in a mock check-in at the immigration and was also given a boarding pass after checking in her luggage.
Speaking at the event, CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said Terminal-3 was completed amid myriad obstacles and adversities and yesterday the dream finally came true.
However, 10 percent of the project work, including integration, calibration, functional test of all the equipment to make the third terminal building operational, still remains to be completed.
Once the full-fledged operation of the terminal begins, Dhaka airport's annual passenger and cargo handling capacity is expected to double.
Designed to enable passengers to enter and exit the airport smoothly, the third terminal will have a multimodal transport system.
The entire terminal is expected to be operated and maintained by a Japanese company under a public-private partnership.
The opening of the terminal at HSIA is a milestone initiative to not only help turn Bangladesh into a global aviation hub, but also to help flourish the national economy through a boost in tourism.
CAAB officials said around 15 foreign airlines have shown interest to operate from HSIA, which is expected to play a great role in further advancing the country's aviation sector.