Following the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia are on the way to lifting the ban soon on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to the airports of those countries, highly-placed sources told The Independent yesterday. The German embassy in Dhaka has welcomed the significant improvements made by Bangladesh regarding airport security, saying that a decision will be made in due course. The Australian high commission, however, has said its government is not willing to make any changes to the existing arrangements at this moment. The UK announced the lifting of the ban on direct flights to UK on Sunday to become the first of three countries that had imposed the restriction on cargo flights to those countries.
Australia was the first country to slap the ban on direct cargo flights from Bangladesh to that country in December 2015 citing security issues at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka. In March 2016, the UK did the same citing similar reasons and placed some conditions to get the direct flights resumed.
Another European country, Germany, slapped the ban on direct cargo flights also on security grounds. All these bans required re-screening of Bangladeshi cargos at an airport in third country before those arrive in the destinations, causing delay and more spending.
Following the bans, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh took multiple measures to address the concerns of the countries concerned including recruitment of British company Redline for screening of the export goods and imparting training to the manpower in the airport safety and security.
Bangladesh also installed the required number of explosive detection system and explosive detection dogs for cargo scanning in order to enhance safety and security.
“We are almost certain that Australia and Germany will follow the UK to lift the ban on direct cargo flights to those countries,” a cabinet minister told this correspondent yesterday. “I firmly believe that we have done enough to ensure direct flights to any country,” he said.
“During the course of discussions regarding safety and security issues at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, representatives of these two countries gave us clear impressions that their concerns are very much in line with those of the UK,” he added.
“The UK was the main player among them. As it has lifted the ban, today or tomorrow Australia and Germany will also do so,” said another source.
“I am confident that Australia and Germany will also lift the ban on direct flights because their concerns have been more or less like the ones of the UK,” said Rashed Khan Menon, former civil aviation and tourism minister who was transferred to social welfare ministry in the January reshuffle.
All the negotiations took place during his time at the civil aviation and tourism ministry. His contribution to the lifting of UK ban was acknowledged by British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Alison Blake on Sunday while declaring the end of the ban. “I am happy that the ban was lifted which will enhance the image of our country and benefit our exporters,” said Menon. “Germany welcomes the significant improvements reached concerning the security conditions at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka,” said an official of the German embassy in an email communication. “The relevant authorities in Germany will in due time come to a decision concerning direct cargo flights between Bangladesh and Germany,” he said. “Australia allows air cargo from Bangladesh to enter Australia provided aircraft operators re-examine air cargo at specified last ports of call using approved examination methods,” said an official of the Australian high commission in an email communication. “Australia does not intend to change these air cargo arrangements at present,” he said.