dhaka bangladesh © Alexey Novikov |
© Alexey Novikov |

Direct flights to the UK from Bangladesh have relaunched, following repairs to an explosive detection scanner (EDS) in Dhaka Airport.

And officials expect two new EDS machines in operation by the first week of November, relieving congestion at the airport that built after direct flights were halted last month after the failure of the scanners.

Plus, they said, another EDS machine, undergoing testing, is expected to come online by the end of next month. An EU team visited Bangladesh recently to validate the two new machines, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

As a result, freighter operators are gradually reintroducing flights to the country

This week, Bahrain-based MENA Aerospace operated the first non-scheduled exclusive cargo flight from Bangladesh to the US, Dhaka-Bahrain-Lisbon-US, with Portugal-based EuroAtlantic Airways.

Rezina Sultana, MD of Fly Dhaka Cargo, the general sales agent of MENA Aerospace, said it planned two to three flights a week, based on demand.

Nasir Ahmed Khan, director at the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFFA), told The Loadstar freighter flights would be in full swing when the two additional new EDS scanners came on line and the existing two were fully operational.

“The crisis at Dhaka Airport will end then,” he said.

Mr Khan said Biman Bangladesh Airlines was recruiting 150 new staff to work in the cargo village area, in particular to operate EDS and other scanning machines for vegetable exports.

He added that exports out of Dhaka were gradually increasing, with between 670 and 870 tonnes going through the airport each day since Sunday.

But Nurul Amin, MD of Tower Freight Logistics, told The Loadstar airfreight rates had not fallen yet, despite a rise in capacity, and had continued to increase in some cases.

“Air cargo demand has not lessened, thus there is no reason for a reduction of rates,” he said.

The freight rate per kg to Europe is now $6.50, while to the US it is between $11 and $13, according to BAFFA VP Syed Md Bakhtiar, who added that Biman Bangladesh Airlines had resumed flights to Dubai this month, adding export capacity to the market.

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