[ Front Page ] 2018-01-13
Cargo ban lingers as UK places new conditions
Sohel Hossain Patwary   

The ban on direct cargo flights to the UK may linger further as the UK Department of Transport (DFT) has imposed some new conditions to improve the overall security and logistics handling features at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA).

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) was expecting to get the ban withdrawn by the UK authorities at the end of 2017 after making a massive overhaul of the security and logistics systems at HSIA to meet the conditions of UK authorities.

A three-member team from the UK visited HSIA from November 22 to 27 last year and expressed satisfaction over the progress made in security and logistics systems.

After the UK team’s visit, then Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon met officials of UK Department of Transport (DFT) to discuss the withdrawal of the ban.

After his visit, Menon informed the media that the UK authorities may lift cargo ban at the beginning of 2018

But instead of lifting the ban, the UK authorities placed some fresh conditions and made some observations. This latest development has frustrated the authorities and officials concerned, sources at Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry said.

Sources said that the UK recommended appointing security advisers and following the UK model in aviation security.

Contacted, Civil Aviation Additional Secretary Abul Hasnat Md Ziaul Haque told the daily sun that UK authorities earlier assured that the ban would be lifted at the beginning of this year, but surprisingly they imposed some new conditions.

“We replied with our comments on the new conditions and waiting for their response.
They want us to appoint more staff members at the airport and we will think about this later,” said Ziaul Haque.

“They expressed their satisfaction during the visit in November and we were expecting good news at the beginning of this year. We are hopeful that they will lift the cargo ban,” a CAAB official said.

Citing the security concern and mismanagement at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, the UK government imposed the temporary ban on direct air cargo shipments from Dhaka to London on March 8, 2016, hurting the trade between the two countries and airport image before the world.

Since the ban, CAAB and Biman Bangladesh Airlines have been working relentlessly for improving the security standards at the country’s premier airport.

According to UK’s conditions, the government appointed British company Redline Aviation Security Limited to upgrade security systems and providing training to the airport officials at HSIA.

With support from Redline Security, civil aviation and airport authorities installed Explosive Detective System (EDS) and Explosive Trace Detector (ETD) machines at HSIA cargo village area to meet the security standards of the UK and European Union (EU).

The authorities also installed eight dual s-ray scanning machines for screening big baggage, 14 scanning machines for handbag screening, six liquid expulsive detection machines, nine under-vehicle scanning devices, five barrier gates with RFID card reader machines and dog squad to strengthen the security features at the airport.

Due to the ban, cargo handling authority Biman Bangladesh Airlines is losing huge revenue while businesses facing huge difficulties in cargo shipments.
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