The European Union’s (EU’s) move to place air cargo from Bangladesh in the red category has become embroiled in controversy here, since the EU is yet to send any official letter to Bangladesh on this issue. Even though the authorities—including the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) and Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport—denied the existence of any “official” warning by the EU, the CAAB is going to hold an emergency meeting with the EU today (Monday).
CAAB sources said the EU’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Pierre Mayaudon, will sit with the CAAB chairman, Air Vice Marshall Ehsanul Gani Chowdhury, at his office to resolve the issue about the EU putting cargo from Bangladesh in the red category.
The CAAB chairman was contacted, but he did not take the call. Civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon, however, confirmed to The Independent that the meeting between the CAAB chairman and the EU ambassador to Bangladesh would indeed be held.
“Yes, there will be a meeting on Monday. The CAAB has asked the EU to clarify the matter,” he said.
The minister said there was a misconception about the EU warning. “First of all, I can say that neither our ministry nor the CAAB or the airport authority has received any official letter from the EU about the warning.”
“So, at this point, it is not clear to us what sort of warning the EU has imposed on our cargo,” said the minister.
From unofficial sources, the ministry learned that the EU’s move to impose extra screening of cargo not only applies to air cargo but to other types of cargo as well. “That’s why the CAAB will sit with the EU today to confirm and resolve the issue.” Meanwhile, officials from several airlines expressed concern as they have heard that the EU has put Bangladesh’s cargo security in the red list, which means that any cargo originating from Bangladesh has to go through the enhanced security system and screening to enter any EU country.
Airport sources told The Independent that from June 1, the authorities of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport unofficially informed the cargo handling department of the airport about the EU’s warning.
Group Captain Kazi Iqbal Karim, director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, told The Independent that they did not issue any instructions to the cargo village. “You can go to our cargo depot and see for yourself whether or not any enhanced security measure has been adopted,” he said.
The director of Shahjalal Airport said if any warning for extra security comes, then it has to come officially. “This is an international airport. Everything here is done with a proper paper trail,” he said.
He said that even if the EU askes the airport to pass air cargo through extra security processes, the airport would not face any problem, because it already has a dual-view X-ray machine. In August, an explosive detection device (EDD) will be brought in. “So, from our side, we don’t lack any preparations,” said the director.