AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) recently added Dhaka to its international
The B747 freighter that will be touching
the Bangladesh capital twice a week will not only help relieve the congestion
at the airport but also boost exports.
Right Service Right Time
ABC flights have come at the right time. Bangladesh – or rather
Dhaka – has been facing major challenges for air cargo exports and
most of it is due to lack of infrastructure.
Meantime Bangla air cargo needs help almost
Mahbubul Anam, President, Bangladesh Freight
Forwarders Association (BAFFA) was candid when he said,
“The major problems in air cargo export
is the congestion (at Dhaka airport).
“Simply put, the infrastructure in
air cargo and elsewhere is not capable to match the growth of industry
in the country,” he said.
Exports Up Double Digits
He pointed out that the year-on-year growth
was around 15 percent in air cargo exports.
“The air cargo industry would be growing
125 percent in the next five years,” he said, “according to
In no uncertain terms, Anam emphasized that
infrastructure in his country’s aviation sector would have to improve.
As far as Bangladesh was concerned, “98
percent of air exports were being done from Dhaka airport.”
He also underlined the fact that “there
were fewer options to move cargo from any other airport (in the country)
since most of the airports’ infrastructure had not yet been fully
developed for freight movement.”
Small Numbers Big Potential
The BAFFA chief also said that air exports
out of Bangladesh accounted for only 2.5 per cent of the total exports.
The overall air export volume was around 250,000 tons in 2017-18. He was
quick to point out that a lot of cargo was sent out by sea during the
peak season to avoid the waiting period at Bangladesh airport.
It was in desperation that BAFFA found a
way out: through Kolkata airport in India.
“Yes,” said Anam, “I did
think about the Kolkata options and it took three months (to put the plan
into effect). But, he pointed out, the Kolkata option could not be a long-term
“As there are few alternative options
available in Bangladesh, Kolkata airport can be a short term solution.
Currently Kolkata is using 60 percent of
Even as “the growth of air cargo has
been on an ever increasing trend for Bangladesh, the Kolkata gateway can
cater to a certain amount of the volume but cannot be a permanent solution
for the long term as it depends on capacity and costs.”
Pressure To Build Up Capabilities
BAFFA and similar bodies have been trying
their utmost to boost infrastructure.
“The pressure to boost the infrastructure,”
said Anam, “is coming from all the relevant bodies that are associated
with the cargo movement. The pressure is from the business community and
from international and local business associations.”
He was optimistic since the “Government
has taken the initiative and was building a new state of art cargo village
at HSIA (Dhaka Airport).”
BAFFA has noticed that other than readymade
garments, there are other commodities that have huge potential for exports.
While “readymade garments make up
around 85 percent of the country’s total exports, perishable cargo
makes up the rest. Future demand is mostly in the pharmaceuticals and
leather sectors,” he said.