Dhaka,  Saturday
15 June 2024

HSIA passenger traffic surges 3 times in 3yrs

Imran Ali, Dhaka

Published: 07:44, 23 May 2024

Update: 18:14, 23 May 2024

HSIA passenger traffic surges 3 times in 3yrs

Photo: Messenger

The annual passenger traffic at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport dipped to less than half in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic-induced travel restrictions, but then rebounded three times over the next three years, reaching 90 lakh in 2023. Officials predict the number will hit one crore this year and will double once the third terminal’s full-fledged operations start later in 2024.  

The annual number of passengers, including domestic and international, using the airport plummeted to 30 lakh in 2020 from 70 lakh a year earlier because of the pandemic. This was followed by an upward rebound trend, with the figure reaching 70 lakh again in 2022 before hitting 90 lakh a year later. 

Aviation expert Kazi Wahedul Alam told The Daily Messenger the number of passengers at the airport is increasing gradually and the opening of the third terminal will transform it into a hub, causing traffic to rise further. 

“When all the infrastructure is developed, the airport will become one of the most beautiful ones. In that case, on the one hand, the revenue of the government will increase while the airport’s importance will rise on the other hand. Besides, passengers will face no hassles, which will increase their confidence in using the airport,” he explained.  

Every day, 30,000-35,000 passengers on average use the country’s biggest airport to fly to their destinations. 160-170 airplanes arrive at and depart from the airport on domestic and international routes daily. The number will be 300-350 if cargo traffic is included.

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Executive Director Group Captain Kamrul Islam told The Daily Messenger that a record number of passengers are using the airport. “Our range of services is also expanding. The third terminal is in the process of handover. The airport will look like the large ones in the world once the third terminal is launched.” 

He said they were paying special attention to serving the Bangladeshi expats as well as remittance earners. “We are taking steps to ensure that they are not harassed in any way. Also, we are prioritising other matters, such as preventing luggage theft and cutting as well as enabling passengers to receive their luggage from the baggage carousel as fast as possible.” 

Kamrul said the airport will have a completely new look in the next one to two years. 

Meanwhile, for the safety of this huge number of passengers, the airport has a strong security system. In addition to the aviation security team, the Airport Armed Police Battalion works to ensure the security of passengers and provide them with various facilities. The security teams also work to prevent luggage theft and cutting as well as smuggling.

Ziaul Haque Palash, Additional Superintendent of Police of the Airport Armed Police Battalion, told The Daily Messenger, "We work to ensure passenger security in shifts. More than 1,000 members of the battalion work day and night. More than 300 members are on duty in every shift. Security officials also work in plainclothes while there are dog squads and a crisis response team, which operates around the clock.”

Director of Aviation Security Wing Commander Mohammed Miran Hossain told The Daily Messenger that the members in charge of aviation security also work to ensure passenger safety. “We are committed to ensuring that passengers are not subjected to harassment and luggage theft.”

He also said, “Passenger satisfaction is our satisfaction. We are trying to make the airport safe so that they can use it.”

In 1980, Tejgaon Airport was the main international airport of the country. Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport was known as Dhaka International Airport before it was renamed in honour of Shah Jalal, one of Bangladesh's revered Sufi saints. It is the operational hub of most of the country’s private airlines, including Air Astra, NOVOAIR, and US-Bangla Airlines, as well as national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines.