More than 15 months have elapsed after the UK authorities imposed ban on cargo shipment from Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport (HSIA) in Dhaka, but there is still no indication of lifting of the ban. The continuation of the ban is affecting trade between the two countries.
The ban on direct cargo shipment is putting pressure on the shippers, exporters and freight forwarders as mandatory rescanning in a third country has pushed up shipment costs.
Besides, as the cargo service provider company, Biman Bangladesh Airlines is being deprived of huge revenue and the reputation of HSIA is being damaged.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines sources said they are losing Tk 40 lakh from each cargo flight from Dhaka to the UK.
Citing the security concern and mismanagement, the UK government imposed the temporary ban on direct air cargo shipments from Dhaka to London on March 8 last year.
Since the ban, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) and Biman Bangladesh Airlines have been working relentlessly for improving the security standards at the country’s largest airport.
CAAB and Biman officials said they have improved the overall management at the airport, especially with regards to security and cargo service based on the suggestions from European Airlines Security Agency.
Sources said CAAB installed eight dual s-ray scanning machines for screening big baggage, 14 scanning machines for handbag screening, six liquid expulsive detection machines, nine under vehicle scanning system, five barrier gate with RFID card reader machines and two explosive detection system to strengthen the security features at the airport.
At the same time, Biman source said they have taken a set of measures, including installing 130 CCTV cameras in the cargo area and operation centre, semi-automation of cargo input area, four forklifts, launched new software service for cargo and appointed new 300 people in cargo service section.
“Over the last more than a year, Biman incurred a loss of Tk 70 crore which ultimately affected the national carrier’s revenue.
If the ban continues, the amount of loss will also go up,” Biman spokesperson Shakil Meraz said.
He also said Biman authorities are making their best efforts to have the UK withdraw the ban.
Soon after the ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka, the government signed a deal with British company Redline Aviation Security Limited to upgrade security systems and providing training to the airport officials.
“The government urged the UK authorities several times to withdraw the temporary embargo on cargo flight operations from Dhaka,” said a CAAB high official wishing not to be named.
“Though Bangladesh made substantial progress in updating the security standards, there is no sign of withdrawing the ban from UK side,” he added.
On November 16, a British delegation visited Bangladesh and inspected the cargo village area of Shah Jalal Airport. The team expressed their satisfaction over the progress but said there is more needs to be done, CAAB sources said.