Lax monitoring coupled with mismanagement has put the country’s busiest Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport in a chaos, causing immense sufferings to the passengers and visitors.
A glaring lack of maintenance and the dismal state of services at the airport are voiced by many local and foreign passengers who find it difficult to compare the facilities here with other international airports.
Some passengers alleged that sometimes they have to pay extra for the minimum services at the airport. The security guards are reportedly allowing people through the entrance for bribes.
“Considering all these issues, several teams, including airport authorities, Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh (CAAB), UK-based contractor Redline and Biman are relentlessly working to improve the conditions at the airport. Changes can not be made overnight, but those will be visible soon,” CAAB member (operation and planning) M Mostafizur Rahman said.
Passengers and aviation insiders said the services related to check in or check out, boarding pass, security checks, direction for the passengers and hygienic are so poor that most passengers leave the airport with utterly bad experiences.
Apart from the dismal state of services, another big frustration for the passengers at HSIA is waiting for hours for luggage and the frustration intensifies when someone discovers that their valuables have gone missing or stolen from the luggage, sources added.
CAAB sources said more than 65 lakh passengers used Dhaka airport in 2015-16 FY. Since 2000, the number of passengers has jumped by almost 62 percent, but the infrastructural capacity, including the baggage area, failed to match the rise in the number of passengers.
Currently, 26 airlines excluding Biman are operating their flights from Dhaka airport with more than 110 international flights operating every day.
During a visit to Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport, inadequate lights in the exit points were found, some floor tiles were found broken to make trolley carrying difficult, no one was there to provide information the passengers and only two flight monitor displays were found.
Owing to the facts, HSIA still remains in the category-2 according to the standard of US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) which costs direct flight to New York.
MA Mosharraf Hossain, deputy director of HSIA, said initiatives from all levels are putting on to end this crisis. The issues are being discussed each and every meeting with concerned agencies, airlines, CAAB and other stakeholders.
Poor luggage handling service
Passengers who have used Dhaka airport often find themselves waiting for hours in long queues in front of the luggage collection.
Loss or theft of valuables from baggage is also widespread as a group has been involved in stealing belongings. Sometimes baggages go missing for poor luggage handling at the airport.
Airport sources said a large number of luggages is lost or stolen every year in Dhaka airport. Even, many suitcases or packages also get damaged because of rough handling by the ground staffs.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines is the service provider for luggage handling at Dhaka airport. According to Biman, there are eight arrival baggage belts and five departure baggage carousel, but those are not equally usable.
Airport sources, preferring anonymity, said the departure carousel ‘B’ frequently breaks down, departure carousel ‘C’ lacks sufficient space, departure carousel ‘D’ is old and torn and the load bearing of this carousel is not sufficient. The arrival baggage belts No. 2 and 3 cannot carry more than 20-25 baggage and arrival baggage belt 5 and 6 cannot be used for bigger flights due to space limitations.
Talking with this reporter, many passengers expressed their dissatisfaction over the poor service and infrastructure at the airport.
“It takes almost 2-3 hours to get my luggage, which is really painful. Even the efficiency and attitude of airport staff are also not pleasing,” said Shahriar Ahmed, adding that the foreigners he was accompanying got annoyed by the quality of service at the airport.
Replying to a query, CAAB member Mostafizur Rahman said Armed Police Battalion, Ansar and Redline have been dealing this matter with utmost priority.
The business people and passengers have long been alleging that the cargo service at HSIA is very poor and goods and valuables remain under the open sky in most cases.
Due to the mismanagement, valuable goods and products are wasted and at the same time, causing huge losses to the organisation, companies or traders concerned.
Taking notice of the issue, the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry has also expressed dissatisfaction over the mismanagement of airport’s cargo handling. The ministry has sought clarifications and asked the authorities concerned to take steps to address these issues.
Meanwhile, the UK’s ban on direct cargo service since March 2016 is still in place, putting an enormous setback on the trade though the country’s largest airport.