HSIA, the gateway to Bangladesh by air_ has now become a nightmare for air travellers

HSIA, the gateway to Bangladesh by air_ has now become a nightmare for air travellers

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport_ the gateway to Bangladesh by air_ has become a nightmare for both outgoing and incoming travellers.

Entry to the airport from capital city and exit from the airport for the city_ has now become enormously time consuming. Travellers need to spend several additional hours to board the plane to get out of Bangla-desh and enter the city after disembarking from the plane.

The reasons are many and varied_ inefficient ground handling, inadequate facilities, heavy traffic jam on highway and inefficient both ways traffic management inside airport perimeter, are the major cause for trouble.

In addition to problems associated with passenger handling inside the terminal building-departure and arrival–, passengers are now need to spend long hours before boarding the plane and before reaching home or hotel after completion of arrival formalities at the airport.

For travellers departing from Dhaka, problems awaits at different stages. These are Highway to airport, entry into airport perimeter, entry into terminal building and check-in.

For travellers arriving Bangladesh, the trouble awaits at the following stages_ luggage conveyor, to get transport to home or hotel, get out of airport perimeter and highway.

To avoid risk of missing plane, departing travellers usually starting the journey from home or hotel around almost seven hours before departure time. They are also need to stand on long queue to enter inside terminal building, as only about two gates are open for entry. To complete check-in formalities are also time consuming.

All departing travellers are to negotiate heavy traffic on the highway to HSIA, More delay due to security check inside airport perimeter and elevated part of ramp and then stand in queue to enter inside terminal.

For incoming travellers, first tough hurdle is to get luggage _By Raquib Siddiqi

from conveyer belt. It is not uncommon to wait more than two hours to get the luggage. Then to get public or private transport for home or hotel is not pleasant experience. Finally, to get out of airport perimeter, enter the highway and reach home or hotel is indeed time consuming_ five to six hours are not uncommon.

Biman is claiming that it is delivering luggage within 20 minutes. The claim seems to be misleading. What Biman-the ground handling agent_ is trying to do is to deliver the first luggage on the conveyer within 20 minutes. But there seems to be no time limit for last luggage.

For example on January 03 EK 582 landed HSIA at 1010 am. A couple, travelling from JFK, New York got their luggage at 2:10 pm, and as last passenger another person got his luggage at 2:30 pm.

This is the usual pattern of luggage delivery at HSIA. Not many are lucky to get luggage within 30 minutes. Most of the passengers are to wait long_ a large number of them well over two hours.

More time

Air travellers, departing through Hazarat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) are now required to report at the check-in counter at least four hours before departure time.

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), the custodian of HSIA_ the gateway to Bangladesh by air, has installed additional safety and security systems at the airport, to ensure better safety for the travellers.

The need to report one hour before than earlier time of three hours, for check-in is required to go through the new security system.

However, it is difficult to understand why one to be required to report four hours before departing time? Nowhere in the world, it is more than three hours. On the other hand, all the airports in the world are making constant endeavour to minimise this three hours time. CAAB one the other hand, imposing more time on the air travellers.

It is interesting to note that the time required by the air travellers to reach HSIA from home and hotel in city and to reach home and hotel in city from HSIA is significantly lees than to reach all the direct destination from except two_ London and Istanbul. Except London And Istanbul, flight time of all the other destinations from is less than five hours.

Occasional hazard

Occasionally, air travellers are to experience more hardship, if any part of highway to HSIA is blocked for any reason.

One like that happened on Wednesday January 10. A large number of air travellers through Hazrat Shajalal International Airport (HSIA)-both out going and incoming-under went tremendous sufferings including missing flights.

It began around 9:00am when a faction of Tabligh Jamaat followers gather on the airport intersection protesting against the arrival of Indian Islamic preacher Maulana Saad Kandhalvi for the Biswa Ijtema.

The airport road was blocked for several hours and traffic in the capital’s northern part was brought to its knees throughout Wednesday.

On average, 130 international and domestic flights, both outgoing and inbound, operate through the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport daily.

Most of the domestic and international flights were delayed, as captains, crew members and passengers all got stuck in the traffic chaos. Out going passengers and crew could not reach the airport and incoming passengers and crew could no leave the airport.

Thousands of city dwellers, especially officer-goers, students and commuters also suffered badly as they remained stranded on the road for hours.

Deplorable situation

Almost on all count, ground handling at HSIA now can simply be described as deplorable.

Airlines, operating to and from the airport, alleged lack of support from Biman_ the ground handling agent (GHA).

Service level agreement with “penalty clause” is an imperative component and vital to ensuring the required standard service by the GHA to the airlines. But since its birth till date, Biman management never signed Service Level Agreement (SLA) with any of the operating airlines, although Biman claims to be IOSA compliant.

In different airports around the world, many airlines do their own ground handling. Moreover, there are multiple agencies and airlines can choose any of them for their ground handling jobs. So, airlines sometimes subcontract ground handling to another airline, as it is a cheaper alternative to setting up its own ground handling.

In Bangladesh, however, Biman is enjoying monopoly in providing ground handling to other airlines. The operating airlines struggle to maintain their minimum standard of service delivery, and they find no alternative.

What CAAB to do

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), the organisation responsible for running HSIA_ the gateway to Bangladesh by air_ is certainly not responsible for deplorable traffic situation in Dhaka, but can certainly minimise the woos of air travellers_ both incoming and out going_ by improving efficiency of certain operations.

There is vast scope for the improvement of efficiency of operations like luggage delivery, management of vehicular traffic to and from HSIA including parking lots and security outside terminal buildings of the airport.

At present air travellers are to check-in four hours before departure time, there no discipline in movement of private or cars on hire engaged in transporting travellers and inefficiency of security check of vehicles cause unwelcome traffic jam at entry point of HSIA. There is also long queue to enter inside HSIA terminal buildings and luggage delivery takes unusually long time

Opening of more entrance gates to avoid long queue, withdrawal of check-in four hours before departure time, non-hindered movement of private or car on hire to drop-off and pick-up of outgoing and incoming travellers, improvement of car check at entry point of HSIA and of course delivery of luggage on normal time, will result in saving of huge time of the travellers_ both outgoing and incoming.

And this saving of time will occur inside the perimeter of HSIA and before hitting the roundabout on the highway connecting the airport. Under the existing strenuous situation, this will provide some relief to the air travellers.

Shamim imtiaz

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