The direct air communication of the port city with other countries of Southeast and East Asia including Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong still remains snapped affecting the local business badly barring the economic growth of the country’s largest business hub. Only two airlines are connecting Bangkok and Malaysia with Chittagong directly.
According to Civil Aviation sources, Regent Airways of Bangladesh is connecting Bangkok with Chittagong while Malinda Air connected Malaysia with the port city. Increasing growth of trade and commerce in the port city has remarkably been decreased with Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong from this problem, sources added. Most of the entrepreneurs in Chittagong and Chittagong EPZ belong to the South East and East Asia.
But there is no direct air communication from Chittagong to those countries to boost up business as well as foreign investment in the port city. On the other hand, the Southeast Asia passengers’ traffic commutes to Dhaka to avail their flights on foreign airlines to reach their destinations.
It is not that the airport does not have any potential, on the contrary, it has all that is necessary to become a major regional airport, but unfortunately the centralised nature of Bangladesh economy is slowly killing this viable airport, alleged the local businessmen while talking with The Daily Observer. Moreover, passenger and business flights from Chittagong to Southeast Asia need to travel extra 150 miles to Dhaka that is exploiting the potentials of this important airport.
So, government must pay special attention to the Shah Amanat Airport here, they opined adding that there are no direct flights from Chittagong to European countries and the United States also. The Readymade garments manufacturers said EU countries and the US are the major buyers of Bangladeshi RMG products.
Only seven foreign and three domestic airlines are operating flights from Chittagong to the Middle Eastern countries particularly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Bahrain, Calcutta, Jeddah, Kuwait and Muscat, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. The businessmen of the port city demanded initiation of direct flights from Chittagong to Eastern countries as soon as possible. Mahbub Alam, President of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), opined, “The investment in the port city is being hampered due to the absence of direct air link to Eastern countries.
He demanded also demanded initiation of direct air link with the European countries immediately in order to boost up investment in Chittagong. Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury, First Vice President of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturer and Exporters Association, opined the direct link with Southeast and East Asia from Chittagong would help the government attaining the US$50 billion export by 2021.