The United Kingdom is likely to announce the withdrawal of a ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London on Sunday with some observations, says a government official on Thursday.
The official at the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, wishing to remain unquoted, said the announcement on lifting the ban might come from a joint press conference on Sunday afternoon.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal and British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Alison Blake are scheduled to brief the media at 2:30pm at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport conference room, the official said.
The British government is also likely to provide an elaborate ‘update’ on aviation security measures, said the official.
During his Dhaka visit, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on February 9 indicated the withdrawal of the ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London soon saying they are very pleased over the progress Bangladesh government and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh made so far.
“The aviation authority in Bangladesh and the government of Bangladesh made huge efforts. We’re very pleased to see the progress that has been made,” Johnson said.
On March 8, 2016, the British government slapped the ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to London after Biman failed to pass the safety and security tests.
Biman’s cargo business shrank 22.54 percent last fiscal year on the back of the ban on direct freight flight from Dhaka to London, according to available data.
In fiscal 2016-17, Biman earned Tk 244 crore from its cargo business in contrast to Tk 315 crore a year earlier. The state-run carrier transported 33,542 tonnes of cargoes last fiscal year, down 18 percent year-on-year, the data shows.
Bangladesh is expecting a formal letter of lifting ban from the UK Department for Transport as the authority has installed an explosive detection system, explosive detection devices and a liquid explosive detection system in the export cargo zone of the airport.
A dual view x-ray scanning machine, a dual view scanning machine, a under vehicle scanning system, and a barrier gate with card reader were also installed as per the UK’s advice, officials said.