CAAB initiates efforts to expand and upgrade HSIA To build a new airport for Dhaka

caabiniDhaka: The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has taken steps to further expand and upgrade Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA), the gateway to Bangladesh by air and build a totally new airport for Dhaka, to meet the growing needs of the country as well as to elevate the airport’s international standing.

Air Vice Marshal M Sanaul Huq, the new Chairman of CAAB, while informally talking to me at his office recently informed that steps have been taken to facilitate HSIA with second runway and third terminal building to cope with the rising air traffic, and take pressure off the lone runway, to double the capacity of the airport.

He also informed that step is being taken to start process of appointing reputed international consultant to study feasibility of a totally new airport for Dhaka to meet the growing needs of the country two decades from now.

The growth
Air traffic in Bangladesh both passenger and cargo are registering healthy growth. In 2010, the number of passenger traffic was 4,718,000. The number increased to 5,100,000 in 2011; 5,574,000 in 2012; 5,880,443 in 2013 and 6,084,215 in 2014.

In past five years, between 2010 and 2014, Bangladesh achieved significant air passenger traffic growth in the country.

The movement of air cargo is also healthy, albeit not continuous. In 2010 the volume of air cargo was 200,000 metric tons. In 2011 the volume fell slightly to 186,000 tons, but picked up again in 2012 to 214,000 tons; in 2013 234,840 tons and in 2014 248,008 tons.

Feasibility study
As the part of upgradation, CAAB intends to develop the airport for operation of new generation aircraft. The development works mainly includes construction of a new second runway, third international terminal building and associated infrastructural development along with necessary electro-mechanical and Nav-aid equipment installation.

A consortium of three organisations of three different countries_ Bang-ladesh, South Korea and Singapore_ has already been appointed to provide necessary engineering consultancy services. The consortium is going to undertake feasibility of second runway and third terminal along with other supporting infrastructure development works at HSIA.

The major job of the consultant is the feasibility study, planning, design, documentation, estimating etc. The efforts are aimed at optimum utilisation of existing airport area through expansion and upgradation and build new facility to meet the future requirements.

It is learnt that the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism has endorsed the project. The feasibility study is expected to be complete by June this year.
AVM Sanaul Huq informed me that the consulting firm has been asked to prepare a plan to maximise the use to entire area of the airport. In doing so, some existing structures may be needed to be knockdown.

If approved in time and funded properly, the construction works for the expansion and upgradation of HSIA is expected to start around 2019 and complete by 2027.

Existing situation
It is interesting to note that HSIA was built keeping a provision for a parallel runway. Moreover, almost 60 per cent of Shahjalal airport’s 2,000 acres of land is currently remains unutilised. Feasibility study will determine the best use of the vacant land for second runway and third terminal building and other facilities.

It is relevant to mention that CAAB has already scrapped the plan that allowed IPCO to build golf course. In the revised agreement IPCO is allowed to build two hotels only.

With future need in sight, CAAB has decided to construct third international terminal along with the second runways. The airport now has three major terminals, T1 and T2 for international flights and a third terminal (known as Domestic Terminal) for domestic flights. The arrivals deck is the ground floor and the upper floor is the departures hall. A VIP terminal is built only about 200 meters from the main gate and is only used occasionally.

New airport
Along with increase in capacity of HSIA, to cope with growing traffic demand_ both passenger and cargo_ CAAB has ta-ken plan to divert some international flights to SAIA in Chittagong, OIA in Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar which is being upgraded to international airports.

AVM Sanaul said that growth rate of air traffic in Bangladesh is quite healthy for the past several decades and higher than the global average. So, expansion and upgradation of HSIA is likely to serve the country up to only 2035, not beyond that. So, Dhaka will need a new airport.

In response to a query whe-ther the proposed Bangaban-dhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport (BSMIA) has been dropped as reported in a local English daily, the CAAB chief answered in the negative. He informed that CAAB has taken steps to start process for appointment of international consultants to prepare feasibility for the project.

AVM Sanaul said that the proposed airport would be for Dhaka, the gateway to Bangladesh by air. So, one has to be very careful in selection of site of the airport. The location cannot be too close to existing city and cannot be too far. Good communication between Dhaka city and proposed location of the airport will be another important requirement.

Moreover, AVM Sanaul said that in the modern day world, in building airport, there are number of aspects, need to be seriously examined. Important among these are environmental and social impacts.

Recent developments
It may be recalled that in recent years at HSIA, CAAB has completed modernisation and beautification of two terminal buildings. Constructed five aircraft parking bays. Installed two more boarding bridges. Re-installed power plant to ensure 24 hours power supply. Added more passenger check-in and immigration counters and baggage conveyor belts.

The airport has been set up and upgraded with technology and instruments. They include: Instrument landing system, Distance measuring equipment and flight calibration system, to help improve the operational standards of the airport.

Physical & humane elements
In developing airports physical facilities include runways, taxiways, aprons, and strips, which are used for the landing and takeoff of aircraft, for the maneuvering and positioning of aircraft on the ground, and for the parking of aircraft in order to load and discharge passengers and cargo. For the safe landing and takeoff of aircraft, proper physical facilities are very important.

As the nation’s air transportation system grew, so did the need for better aviation facilities. It will not be out of the way to say that look and feel of the world’s airports has evolved over the years, as have the methods used to design them.

As aircraft became bigger and passenger numbers rose, HSIA, the gateway to Bangladesh evolved to keep up. Airfields grew larger, grass gave way to pavement, and terminal buildings evolved from simple structures to architectural statements of modernity.

In developing airport, operators should place human considerations high on the list of priorities. The largest airports in the world employ more than 100,000 workers each. They are immensely complex entities with regard to the physical facilities that they comprise, the organisations that are active within their boundaries, and the services that are provided in conjunction with their operation.

Right move
The present capacity of HSIA_ eight million passengers per year_ is estimated by CAAB to be enough until 2026. The proposed expansion and upgradation will enhance the capacity of the airport further to meet the requirement up to 2035.

So, CAAB want to start the process for planning a new airport well ahead. The plan of CAAB is certainly a move in right direction, both in terms of global and domestic needs. Project like airport is mega and complex in nature. Planning and execution of such project is also a time consuming affair.

So, it is heartening to note that CAAB has taken a correct far-sighted stand in respect of building the new airport for the future. Hope, the process of feasibility study will be completed without any hindrance and country will be ready to go ahead with a new bigger airport, when needed.

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