The passenger and cargo movement by air is projected to be increased substantially to and from Bangladesh, offering immense business opportunities for the country.
Aviation experts made the forecast at a seminar in Dhaka Saturday as they estimated passenger movement to increase from 5.8m to 10.2m and air cargo to boost from 230,000 tonnes to 360,000 tonnes by 2020.
“Air transport in the Asia Pacific region is growing rapidly and a similar growth is expected in Bangladesh,” Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice-Marshal Mahmud Hussain told the seminar. “In about 10 years, the Asia Pacific region will probably become the largest air transport market in the world.”
He said the growth would open up an opportunity but, at the same time, it would pose a challenge to the Bangladesh aviation sector as the country lacks adequate pilots.
The annual output of pilots in the country for absorption into the civil airlines is 10 against the minimum allocation of 200. Moreover, the national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines and other private airlines are planning to add a substantial fleet in their inventory, creating demand for a sizeable number of pilots.
To compete with the global market and meet the internal needs, the Civil Aviation Authority is planning to establish an aviation university to meet the global requirement of quality manpower in the field of aviation in a sustainable manner, he said.
There are only three active flying training schools and two aircraft maintenance engineering schools in the country, he said, addressing a seminar titled “Sustainable Development of Aviation Industry in Bangladesh” at the VVIP terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.
“We are already compelled to hire pilots from foreign countries at higher salary. So, time has come to build our own institute to make pilots of our own,” he argued.
He requested financial institutions like reputed banks and investors to come forward in fulfilling the dream of establishing the university to help meet the requirements of aviation professionals.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, however, rejected the plan of establishing university and suggested bringing changes to the bad shape of the country’s aviation sector first. He advised CAAB to establish an institute rather than opening university.
“In a university, there should be multi-discipline. You cannot run a university only to train the pilots. You should establish an institute or college under a university,” he told the conference.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Faruk Khan also spoke on the occasion.