Ground handling of HSIA 3rd terminal: Unhappy with Biman, CAAB to outsource
Disappointed with the ground and cargo handling services of Biman at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, authorities have decided to outsource the job for the new third terminal to a firm of international standards.
Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) made the decision recently amid widespread dissatisfaction of government's high ups and passengers with the poor luggage handling services, sources in the regulatory authority said.
CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said they have appointed a consultant to prepare an outline of the expected ground services quality at the third terminal.
Sources said once a firm gets the job and the authorities are satisfied with its services, it could be given the work for the entire airport.
This would have a serious impact on Biman's bottom line. Biman is likely to face huge loss as its major source of yearly income -- around Tk 1,500 crore -- comes from ground handling services.
Even though ground handling is a key earning source of Biman, the company has apparently been doing little to ensure smooth management and services, claimed aviation experts.
It seems it has surrendered to the idea of losing the job.
Biman Managing Director and CEO Zahid Hossain at a press conference recently said the government would award the work of ground handling to those it deems fit.
"I think there is no reason for Biman to show interest in this regard," he added.
Passengers at HSIA have been facing problems like mishandling of luggage for decades. Sometimes it takes passengers more than an hour to get their checked-in luggage after arrival.
Even Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen blasted officials at the airport for the sufferings of passengers.
"Expatriate Bangladeshis have been contributing to the country's economy with their hard-earned remittance but they have to wait hours to get their luggage upon arrival," he said.
Salman F Rahman, adviser on private industry and investment to the prime minister, said, "An airport gives the first impression about a country. If the experience at the airport is poor, it makes a bad impression on the country."
CAAB chief Mafidur told The Daily Star, "Although Biman is trying to improve its quality of services regarding ground handling, it's not enough. We want to maintain and ensure international-standard ground handling services at the third terminal."
"After completing all procedures, we will go for international bidding to appoint an organisation who will provide ground handling and cargo services ... ," he said.
He said this would serve passengers better and increase the government's income.
Mafidur earlier told the media that Biman had been asked several times to take care of every single luggage as if they were passengers but Biman unfortunately did nothing.
Still, Biman could compete for the job, he said.
On the firm that could get the job, State Minister for Civil Aviation M Mahbub Ali recently told the media, "Those who will be considered eligible by following all the rules and conditions will get the ground handling job. Our aim is to provide better services to passengers and for that we will do everything possible."
Celebrated architect Rohani Baharin designed the third terminal.
Around 44.15 percent of the work has been completed as of last month and the work is expected to be complete by next year, according to the CAAB.
Mitsubishi and Fujita of Japan and Samsung of Korea is building the terminal for Tk 21,399 crore.
The three-storey terminal will have 2.30 lakh square metres of floor space. It will have 115 check-in counters, 64 departure and 64 arrival immigration desks, 27 luggage scanning machines, 12 boarding bridges, and 16 carousels.
It will also have a new car park for 1,230 vehicles and a new 63,000 square metre import and export cargo complex.
The terminal will have room to park 37 aircraft on the apron.
HSIA at the moment can handle eight million passengers a year. Around 130 domestic and international flights carry 25,000-30,000 passengers every day.
But the number of passengers is expected to reach 14 million a year by 2025 and 24.8 million by 2035, according to sources at CAAB.