Moves underway to end Bangladesh cargo ban

Biman Bangladesh Airlines Boeing 737-800 Next Generation (stock photo)

Multiple moves are underway to end a ban by three countries on air cargo directly flown from Bangladesh a source in the capital Dhaka, reports Michael Mackey.

The three countries are Australia, the UK and most recently Germany. Citing safety concerns the three now require cargo originating from Bangladesh to be re-screened in a third country a move which adds both costs and time.

Whilst one newspaper has fulminated about the extra five cents per kilogram to reroute goods to Germany more damaging is the decision some carriers, such as Lufthansa, have made to suspend flights completely.

“It has a disastrous effect on exports as Biman Bangladesh Airlines cannot carry an average of 100 tons cargo per week, mostly garments and vegetables, on its direct flights,” Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFFA) director of public relations, Nurul Amin tells ACW.

This has created extra pressure in an already critical capacity situation from Bangladesh with BAFFA and other trade bodies working to get the ban lifted, he added.

Part of this has been a concerted effort by the public and private sector to tackle the root of the problem – misgivings about airport security at Bangladesh’s major international airport Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport – something cited by both the British and German governments when the ban was announced.

The Bangladesh Government, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) and Biman Bangladesh Airlines have taken number of measures, Amin reports.

Among them are “purchasing necessary security equipment, recruiting manpower and providing them training by UK firm Redline on security control and scanning baggage and cargo. With all above security situation has improved significantly,” he adds.

Currently the onus is on the government to use diplomacy to persuade the UK to end the ban while continue to further improve security in consultation with world’s aviation security experts, Amin explains.

Corroboration for this is indirect but well-sourced with the British High Commission publicly signalling support for the initiative.

Security at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport has improved, but more needs to be done to get the ban on Dhaka-London direct air cargo withdrawn, British High Commissioner Alison Blake said according the website.

“We have been working for a long time with the government of Bangladesh on the ban issue. It is an ongoing programme. Many things have improved,” Blake said according to the site. Officials at the British Mission were repeatedly unavailable for comment when approached.