UK may lift it today
12:00 AM, February 18, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:59 AM, February 18, 2018

Direct Cargo Ban

UK may lift it today

The UK government is likely to announce the withdrawal of the ban on Dhaka-London direct air cargo today.

The announcement would be made this afternoon at a joint press conference by the UK High Commission in Dhaka and Bangladesh's civil aviation ministry, top officials from the ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) told The Daily Star.

Civil Aviation Minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal and British High Commissioner in Bangladesh Alison Blake are scheduled to brief the media at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport's (HSIA) conference room around 3:00pm, said Caab's Public Relations Officer AKM Rezaul Karim.

A senior ministry official said Blake would hand over a letter from the UK Department for Transport on lifting the ban to the minister during their meeting today.

The official said the UK might also come up with some “observations” about the security at the airport. Those “observations” may include appointing a UK security expert at the HSIA on a long term basis, following the UK aviation security model for the airport, and ensuring at least four security assessment there by the UK every year.

Bangladesh earlier had rejected proposals from the UK Department for Transport for following the UK security model and the appointment of the expert at the airport. It also argued that the inspection happened twice, instead of four times, a year.

The country asked the UK to follow the security guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN specialised agency on international civil aviation and an independent security expert for HSIA.

The UK department slapped the ban on March 8, 2016 after the airport had failed to meet some international security requirements.

The European Union, where more than 54 percent of Bangladesh's exports are headed, also declared the airport a “red zone” due to insufficient safety and security measures, following the lead of the UK, Australia and Germany.

Officials at the civil aviation ministry and Caab hope that the EU and the two countries would follow the decision of the UK.

With the ban in place, the EU-bound cargo airlines from Bangladesh have to rescreen goods in a third country, preferably in Dubai, Qatar, Thailand or India.

The ban caused a huge loss for Bangladesh.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines incurred a loss of over Tk 100 crore last year due to the ban, Biman sources said.

Following a meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on February 9, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson said the UK government would shortly lift the ban.

Biman was the only carrier that operated direct cargo flights between Dhaka and London.

Before the ban, it used to earn Tk 40 lakh to Tk 50 lakh for each flight from carrying cargoes. Some 25 to 30 tonnes of goods, mostly apparel and vegetables, were shipped in each flight.

After the ban was imposed, the Bangladesh government appointed British company Redline Aviation Security Limited Seven to meet    the safety requirements at the airport.

Bangladesh in the last two years made various other efforts to have the ban gone.

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