Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Bangladesh would be an international aviation hub as she made "soft opening" of the third terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) here.
"Bangladesh's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport or Cox's Bazar International Airport will be the international aviation hub for its geographical location," she said while partially inaugurating the terminal unveiling a plaque at a HSIA function.
The premier said once Hong Kong was the international aviation hub and Singapore later replaced Hong Kong and now Dubai has become the new aviation hub.
"I believe Bangladesh will be the international aviation hub as it is in between air routes of the East and the West. The global airlines will land either at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport or Cox's Bazar International Airport for refueling," she said.
The prime minister said her government is upgrading the aviation sector to make Bangladesh a global aviation hub in future.
Sheikh Hasina said the third terminal with modern facilities will help expand international air connectivity.
The air link will boost international trade, commerce and business significantly for which her government has given utmost priorities to the development of the aviation sector, she also said.
She said all the major airports like Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Sylhet, Chattogram, Sayedpur, Jashore and Barishal and Rajshahi airports are being expanded and modernized.
Apart from these, steps have also been taken for inter-district air connectivity to flourish tourism, she said.
About modernization of the aviation sector, she said the government is going to set up new radar system to ensure safety and security for airways and France has been assigned to do that.
The premier said they have already started installing pipeline to bring jet fuel directly to the HSIA which will save time and money alongside protecting the environment.
She said they will build another runway in future in the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport if required.
"None have made such a huge development in the aviation sector in the past," she added.
She said they have prepared a master plan to ensure improved services at the airports for which consultants have already been appointed.
The premier hoped that Bangladesh will step into the moon like the neighboring countries one day.
She said her government had established Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University (BSMRAAU) in Lalmonirhat which will help do so.
She said BNP and like minded governments did nothing for the welfare of the country and its people during their tenure.
She said after her party Awami League assumed office, the people of Bangladesh had started getting something and Bangladesh has become role model for development in the last 15 years of the current government.
The prime minister said her government is now working to ensure security of the countrymen.
She said they are also trying to transform Bangladesh into a developed, prosperous and smart country by 2041.
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mahbub Ali, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Masahiro Komura, Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Mokammel Hossain and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman spoke at the function as Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan Saito Tetsuo was present.
The prime minister later went round the terminal 3 and visited its different sections as she was briefed about the facility.
She also took part in a dress rehearsal of passing the immigration through checking in her luggage and she was, as well, given boarding pass later. A video documentary on the third terminal was screened at the function.
Another video documentary on the activities of the Civil Aviation Authority was also screened. Earlier, on her arrival at the third terminal premises, the premier was received by the state minister of the civil aviation and tourism.
A group of children welcomed the head of the government by singing and dancing.
The opening of the facility at HSIA is a milestone initiative to turn Bangladesh into a global aviation hub which helps flourish country's tourism and thus immensely contribute to the national economy.
Ahead of the third terminal's full operation, different foreign airlines eye starting their operation from HSIA in Dhaka, which is expected to play a great role in taking the country's aviation sector forward, officials familiar with the process said.
Ninety percent work of the new terminal has been completed.
The third terminal will be fully operational for passengers use at the end of next year after completion of systems integration and calibration.
The third terminal features immaculate floor and eye-catching patterns on ceiling with very sophisticated enough natural light.
The 12 boarding gates with double entry bridges of the third terminal will be operational by next year while the additional 14 boarding bridges are expected to be installed afterwards.
The third terminal project, costing Taka 21,300 crore, commenced on December 28, 2019. The government contributed Taka 5,000 crore, while the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided the remaining funding.
Covering an area of 542,000 square metres, the third terminal will have a floor space of 230,000 square metres with housing 115 check-in counters, 66 departure immigration desks, 59 arrival immigration and 3 VIP immigration desks.
Upon full-fledged operation of the 3rd terminal, Dhaka Airport's annual passenger and cargo handling capacity is expected to double.
The annual passenger handling capacity of the HSIA would be 24 million (including the old terminals) which is now only eight million and the airport can handle 500,000 tonnes of cargo each year.
The construction work of 37 new aircraft parking area and two taxiways connecting to the apron area have already been completed.
The third terminal is designed to connect with a multimodal transport system to enable passengers to enter and exit the international airport smoothly.
The new terminal will be connected to the elevated expressway, underground railway (MRT-5, Kamalapur to airport portion) and also with the airport railway station through an underground tunnel.
Besides, hajj pilgrims will be able to access the third terminal from Ashkona hajj camp through an underground tunnel.
The third terminal is expected to operate and be maintained by a Japanese company under public private partnership.