Under this project, a new cargo village is being constructed, which will raise the cargo capacity to 500,000 tonnes from the existing 200,000 tonnes
Construction of the third terminal of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital is expected to boost trade through the expansion of cargo capacity, say traders and aviation experts.
Under this project, a new cargo village is being constructed, which will raise the cargo capacity to 500,000 tonnes from the existing 200,000 tonnes.
Due to congestion at the Chittagong port, many exporters have opted for air freight to expedite delivery of consignments, while many manufacturers are using the air routes to import raw materials.
But at present, the process of unloading and shipping products takes a long time due to the lack of modern equipment for product management at the airport, say exporters and importers.
Moreover, as the existing cargo village is too small, there is a limit on how many products can be stored at a time.
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If the port is modernized and the construction of the third terminal is completed, transportation of goods by air will increase significantly, business people said.
Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the third terminal of the HSIA will open a door to new possibilities in the trade and commerce sectors of the country.
“Our economy is growing, so imports and exports and domestic and foreign investment are also growing. In such a context, the launch of a new terminal with modern facilities will speed up the trade and commerce of the country,” he added.
Azim also said that building a new cargo village as part of the airport expansion project will increase the shipment of goods by air.
“Because of the lack of a large cargo village, the goods are being kept out in the open, causing damages. If there is a new terminal and a modern cargo village, all these problems will be solved,” he also said.
Answer to storing perishable goods
Bangladesh exports a significant quantity of fruits and vegetables to the Middle East, Europe, and the rest of the world through air freight.
A senior official of the Bangladesh Fruits Vegetable and Allied Products Exporters Association said that the export process will be much easier after the new terminal opens.
He also said that the cargo handling process will take less time if automation is introduced.
Moreover, there will be air-conditioned warehouses for perishable goods so the products will not get spoiled even if they are stored for a long time.
At present, the quality of vegetables and fruits deteriorate as they are stored out in the open for 8-10 hours before being loaded on to flights.
Ruhul Mondol, a member of the association, said: “Expansion of cargo facilities for exporters has been our demand for a while now. Especially for Middle eastern countries and Italy, cargo processing is a big barrier due to the limited storage space.”
This third terminal will provide more space, so hopefully, we will be able to export more fruits and vegetables on time, he added.
US-Bangla Airlines General Manager of Public Relations Md Kamrul Islam said this terminal would be a “blessing” for passengers and businesses as both the cargo and passenger capacities will increase.
However, it is important to ensure modern facilities as well as improved services at the airport, said Rizwan Rahman, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).
“If an investor from abroad sees a long line at immigration as soon as he gets off the plane, he will be discouraged,” he said.
Rahman added that the regulatory bodies of developed countries do not operate airports as there is no accountability in it.
Foreign, skilled management companies need to be hired through tenders to operate the new terminal, he said.
The third terminal is expected to increase annual passenger capacity to 20 million, a welcome addition as the airport is anticipated to witness passenger traffic of approximately 12 million by August 2022 and up to 22 million by 2035.
Moreover, it is going to include a 54,000-square-metre multipurpose parking lot, along with a 27,000-square-metre import and a 37,000-square-metre export cargo complex.
Apart from that, there are five and three-star hotels right next to the airport and super shops are also being built in the area with private investment.
Project Director Maksudul Islam said the third terminal is being constructed in such a way that passengers get a good picture about Bangladesh as soon as they person land at the airport.
“This terminal will have all kinds of international standard amenities,” he said, adding that there will be a subway station beneath the third terminal, along with an expressway and bus rapid transit (BRT) connections.
Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh (CAAB) sources said the authorities are planning to implement beautification works under the Tk21,300 crore project set to be completed in 2023.
M Shafiq-Ur Rahman, a professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Jahangirnagar University, told Dhaka Tribune that business and trade connectivity will get a big boost from this terminal.
“Not just expatriates or travellers, but many foreign delegates and business persons will also visit the country,” he said.
Referring to the airports in Delhi, Colombo, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and the London Heathrow airport, Rahman said: “We need to focus on multimodal integration so that all people can feel comfortable using the airport. This terminal, in essence, should carry the prestige of the country in front of foreigners.”
He also suggested that cycling lanes and overnight parking feature be added to the terminal, similar to those in European and American airports.
Rahman noted that along with walkways, attaching proper signs would also be helpful for passengers.