Bangladesh’s air cargo sector is on the brink of a significant transformation, with the potential to double in size over the next five years, primarily attributed to the development of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA). Sources from Bangladesh’s air cargo industry highlight that the remarkable growth opportunity is underscored by several key factors that drive this potential expansion.
Despite growth in recent years, Bangladesh’s air cargo industry still handles a relatively small share of export cargo. In 2020, Bangladesh Biman handled just 8.46% of the total export cargo from the country, indicating substantial room for expansion.
Firstly, the process of capacity increment at the HSIA coupled with the implementation of policy changes will together work towards creating a feasible work environment and nurturing it further. However, the ‘sources’ also mention that it is crucial for the airport authority to reduce cargo handling costs if they wish to attract more cargo traffic.
Currently, HSIA’s ground handling charges are among the highest in the region, and addressing this issue is essential for sustainable growth as they pose a significant challenge for the industry. Addressing these charges and improving service quality can attract more cargo operators, both for imports and exports.
Another factor in creating a feasible air cargo market is the availability of enhanced service quality, which is pivotal to attracting both local and international cargo operators. Service quality improvements can address concerns among exporters and attract more business to HSIA.
HSIA is also strapped for cold chain facilities, thereby, limiting the movement of perishables and temperature-sensitive goods via the airport. The addition of cold storage facilities in the third terminal of HSIA could significantly enhance this aspect of the cargo industry.
The Asia-Pacific region is currently experiencing significant growth in the aviation sector and is projected to reach USD 97.13 billion by 2026. If the Bangladeshi government and the country’s air cargo sector work together towards working on the areas of improvement, like those cited above, there will be ample opportunities for Bangladesh’s air cargo industry to fly with the wind.
Additionally, signing FTAs can contribute to achieving Bangladesh’s export targets by facilitating increased trade and technological upgrades, which can, in turn, make air cargo more affordable and efficient.
The developments in Bangladesh’s air cargo industry have far-reaching implications, not only for the economy but also for job creation and the broader aviation sector, making it a focal point for growth and investment in the region.