UK hints withdrawal of air cargo ban on Dhaka-London route


Staff Reporter:

The United Kingdom has indicated withdrawal of 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.

Visiting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson came up with the UK’s latest stance on Friday night saying it is almost done.

“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 while talking to reporters at Sate Guesthouse Padma after his meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali.

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.

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 British Foreign Secretary, now in city on a two-day visit, discussed various issues of bilateral, regional and Rohingya issues in the meeting with Minister Ali that lasted for over an hour.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, British High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake, among others, were present.

Speaking to media after the meeting, the British Foreign Secretary appreciated success of Bangladesh in various areas and laid emphasis on free press and free, fair and democratic elections.

“We want to intensify our bilateral relations,” he said, adding that the UK wants more trade with Bangladesh in the days to come.

On Rohingya issue, he said the international community needs to work hard on how to solve the issue outside the border – in Myanmar.

He said the all want to see safe, dignified and secure returns of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

Johnson said the plight of the Rohingya and the suffering they have had to endure is one of the most shocking humanitarian disasters of their time.

“This is a man-made tragedy that could be resolved with the right political will, tolerance and cooperation from all those involved,” he added.

The British Foreign Secretary said he wants to see and hear for himself the terrible things these people have been through, and he will be talking to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other regional leaders about how they can work together to resolve this appalling crisis.

He began a four-day tour to Asia today where he will visit Myanmar and Thailand after visiting Bangladesh.

This is the first official visit by a Foreign Secretary in ten years.

He met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina before coming to Padma.

British High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake is accompanying the British Foreign Secretary in the meeting.

The Foreign Secretary will also visit a refugee camp on the Bangladesh-Burma border near Cox’s Bazar on Saturday.

The Foreign Secretary will see first-hand the conditions of the Rohingya who have fled Burma to refugee camps in Bangladesh and discuss with the Burmese government the steps needed to enable them to return to their homes.

In Burma, he will hold talks with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and visit northern Rakhine.

The Foreign Secretary will travel on to Bangkok for talks with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and also meet the chair of the Advisory Board on the Rakhine Advisory Commission, Surakiart Sathirathai.


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