Monday, February 19, 2018

UK lifts air cargo ban from BD

Staff Reporter :
The United Kingdom has finally withdrawn the ban on Dhaka-London direct air cargo, almost two years after the authorities imposed an embargo on it saying poor security scanning at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA).
The announcement was made yesterday afternoon at a press conference jointly organised by the UK High Commission in Dhaka and Bangladesh's Civil Aviation Ministry.
Civil Aviation Minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal and British High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake addressed the conference held at the HSIA conference room.
However, the ban still remains imposed on Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which is heavily dependent on cargo flights. And it may take 15 to 20 days to get the certificate, Biman sources said.
Biman was the only carrier that operated direct cargo flights between Dhaka and London.
Before the ban, it used to earn Tk 40 lakh to Tk 50 lakh for each flight from carrying cargoes. Some 25 to 30 tonnes of goods, mostly apparel and vegetables, were shipped in each flight.
The national flag carrier incurred a loss of over Tk 100 crore last year due to the ban, Biman sources said.
Biman's cargo business shrank by 22.54 percent during the last fiscal year following the ban on direct freight flights from Dhaka to London, according to available data.
From Sunday any airlines except Biman will be able to carry direct cargo flight to UK. But Biman will have to wait to get the certificate of "Air cargo or main carrier operating into the union from a third country airport (ACC3)."
Biman Managing Director and CEO AM Mosaddique Ahmed, at the briefing, said it may    take 15 to 20 days to get the certificate.
Suspension on the direct cargo flight was not a political matter, it was a technical thing, said British High Commissioner Alison Blake.
She said, "It's a major achievement that you have transformed in the cargo handling and created a condition that we are very satisfied with."
The lifting of the suspension comes as a result of ongoing cooperation between the UK and Bangladesh and the joint assessment of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, added the envoy.
On March 8, 2016, the UK government imposed the ban following a failure of Dhaka airport to meet some international security requirements.
The European Union, where more than 54 percent of Bangladesh's exports are headed, also declared the airport a "red zone" due to insufficient safety and security measures, following the lead of the UK, Australia and Germany.
Officials at the Civil Aviation Ministry and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) hope that the EU, Australia and Germany would follow the UK's decision.
With the ban in place, the EU-bound cargo airlines from Bangladesh had to re-screen goods in a third country, preferably in Dubai, Qatar, Thailand or India.
After the ban was imposed, the Bangladesh government appointed British company Redline Aviation Security Limited Seven to meet the safety requirements at the airport.
Bangladesh in the last two years made various other efforts to have the ban gone.