Dhaka,  Sunday
14 April 2024

Rise in air passenger leads to record revenue

Imran Ali

Published: 08:23, 1 March 2024

Rise in air passenger leads to record revenue

Photo : Messenger

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has reported record revenue, attributing the surge to an increase in both domestic and international passengers. This year's revenue marks a significant jump, surpassing the figures of the last two fiscal years by at least 30 percent. Compared to the financial year 2021-22, the current revenue has escalated by 23.4 percent. In terms of taka, the income generated by the airport in the current financial year stands at Tk 2,388 crore. By contrast, the income for Shahjalal Airport was Tk 1,597 crore in 2020-21 and Tk 942 crore in 2021-22.

Group Captain Md Kamrul Islam, Executive Director of Dhaka Airport, remarked, "Over the past year, there has been a notable increase in passenger traffic across all sections, including transit." Notably, a substantial portion of passengers on Biman's direct flights from Dhaka to Toronto and Tokyo originate from neighboring countries. Additionally, many passengers from other airlines opt for transit at Dhaka Airport.
Last year, the rise in the number of flights was not solely attributed to new airlines launching services from Dhaka but also to an increase in the frequency of flights operated by existing airlines.

Kamrul Islam noted, "The national flag carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, has not only increased the frequency of its existing flights but also introduced new routes. Similarly, Saudi Arabia has also augmented its flight frequency. Additionally, airlines such as Air India, Vistara, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, and Emirates have also increased their flight frequencies."

Kamrul Islam expressed optimism that the number of passengers would continue to rise with the opening of the third terminal of Shahjalal Airport in October 2024 and the expansion of the aircraft fleet. According to industry stakeholders, both outbound and inbound flights from Bangladesh have seen an increase. Key drivers behind this trend include labor export, educational migration, medical treatment abroad, leisure tourism, and business travel.

Furthermore, industry stakeholders attribute the increase in passenger traffic through the country's airports to the nation's economic growth, heightened purchasing power among its populace, and supportive measures implemented by the government for the aviation sector.

Notably, the surge in air passengers is not confined to Bangladesh alone but is also observed on a global scale. In comparison to 2022, there was a remarkable 36.9 percent increase in the total number of air passengers worldwide in 2023. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global air passenger traffic for the entirety of 2023 surged by 94.1 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
US-Bangla Airlines CEO Squadron Leader Lutfur Rahman informed reporters that the International Air Transport Association had forecasted in 2021 that Bangladesh would return to pre-Covid levels in terms of air passenger transport by 2024. However, Bangladesh has surpassed this prediction ahead of schedule.

Explaining the rapid recovery, Rahman stated, "Our primary passengers are earners who began traveling abroad before other tourists and business travelers. Consequently, the number of passengers naturally increased."

Rahman also noted an increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims last year, indicating another contributing factor to the rise in passenger traffic.
He further commented, "In response to the rising number of international passengers, we have made adjustments to our flight frequencies." Notably, Biman and other airlines have also ramped up their operations to accommodate the increased demand.

According to data from CAAB, the company earned approximately Tk 1,911 crore in the fiscal year 2021-22. Of this amount, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport alone contributed Tk 1,597 crore, while the combined earnings from the remaining seven airports stood at Tk 314 crore.

The authorities have stated that the current capacity of Dhaka Airport is 8o lakh passengers annually. However, this threshold was surpassed last year through the optimisation of flight management strategies. According to CAAB, Shahjalal Airport will be capable of accommodating approximately 2 crore 20 lakh  passengers per year once the third terminal is fully operational.

Currently, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka hosts operations for 35 airlines. Notably, among them are two newcomers from 2023, EgyptAir and Flynas, as confirmed by airport authorities.
Additionally, several new airlines, including Air China, Air Premia, Fits Air, Ethiopian Airlines, and Royal Brunei Airlines, are set to commence operations from Dhaka in the near future.

According to data from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment, and Training (BMET), Bangladesh sent a record 13 lakh expatriate workers abroad last year, marking a 15 percent increase from the previous year.
Moreover, according to UNESCO data, more than 50,000 Bangladeshis pursue education abroad annually.

In 2023, approximately 94 lakh 89 thousand international passengers arrived at Dhaka Airport, marking a significant increase from the previous year's figure of about 78 lakh 28 thousand. Notably, last year, 52 percent of international passengers departed from the country through this airport.

Air Commodore AFM Atikuzzaman, a member of the Civil Aviation Authority (Management and Planning), highlighted the improved quality of passenger service across the country's airports. He noted that the number of foreign passengers has risen as confidence in Bangladesh's airports has grown among international travelers. Atikuzzaman attributed the increased passenger traffic to various government developments, emphasising that the standard of passenger service will continue to be enhanced in the future. He also mentioned the Prime Minister's initiatives to implement projects aimed at catering to both domestic and foreign tourists, expressing confidence that these endeavors will further elevate the quality of service provided at the airports.