Thursday, June 21, 2018 | ePaper

Cargo flights to start from next month

Biman faces final test

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Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
Biman Bangladesh Airlines is expecting to pass the test for European aviation safety standards, creating grounds for the withdrawal of the UK ban on the national flag carrier's direct air cargo service from Dhaka to London.
A team of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) audited Biman's latest security arrangement from Monday to Thursday. The audit has been carried out before lifting the embargo, officials said.
"The team arrived Dhaka last week to inspect the enhanced security arrangements that have already taken Biman in handling its direct air cargo flights from Dhaka to London. It will review the technical aspects of the security measures and submit a report to EASA by this week based on its inspection," Biman's General Manager (Public Relations) Shakil Meraj told The New Nation on Saturday.
He said a positive report will help Biman to get the ACC-3 validation and the certification of "Regulated Agent Third Country (RA3)" required for operating direct cargo service by national flag carrier to the UK and other EU countries.
Prior to this several European teams visited Bangladesh to check security standards at the Dhaka Airport and Biman to lift ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London.
"Biman is expecting to pass the security audit this time, as it has already been made significant progress in meeting a number of important security conditions set for transporting air cargo," said Shakil Meraj.
On February 18 this year, the British government withdrew the two-year-long ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London after being satisfied with the improvement of safety and security measures at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA). But ban remained on Biman's direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London due to lack of ACC-3 validation.
"The audit has been completed to obtain the ACC-3 validation. An official announcement in this regard is expected to come in the first week of March lifting Biman's ban on direct air cargo service from Dhaka to London," said Shakil Meraj.  
Cargo transport is one of the main sources of Biman's income. The income, however, came down significantly due to British sanctions on cargo transport.
Biman earnings from air cargo handling stood at Tk 244 crore in fiscal 2016-17, while the amount  
 was Tk 315 crore in fiscal 2015-16.  
On March 10, 2016, the UK government imposed the ban on cargo flights citing poor security screening both of passengers and consignments, especially, lack of explosive tracking devices at the HSIA and its cargo village
Later on June, Germany's Lufthansa also imposed the ban on direct cargo while the European Union did so in June last year.
Australia was the first country to impose the ban in December 2015
Following the UK's ban, Bangladesh hired British firm 'Redline Assured Security' to upgrade the security management and training of personnel at the airport at a cost of Tk 73.25 crore. The firm will continue their project until March 2018.

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