Shahjalal International Airport
হযরত শাহ্জালাল আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দর
|Airport type||Public / Military|
|Operator||Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh|
|Elevation AMSL||27 ft / 8 m|
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, (Bengali: হযরত শাহ্জালাল আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দর Hôzrôt Shahjalal Antôrjatik Bimanbôndôr) (IATA: DAC, ICAO: VGHS (old: VGZR)), is the largest and most prominent international airport in Bangladesh. It is located in Kurmitola 11 miles (17 kilometres) in the northern part of the capital city Dhaka and it is also a part of BAF Bangabandhu Base used by the Bangladesh Air Force. The airport has an area of 1,981 acres (802 ha). The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) operates and maintains the airport. It started operations in 1980, taking over from Tejgaon Airport as the principal international airport of the country and was formerly known as Dacca International Airport and later as Zia International Airport, before being named in honour of Shah Jalal, who is one of the most respected Sufi saints of Bangladesh. The IATA code of the airport "DAC" is derived from "Dacca", which is the previously used spelling for "Dhaka".
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is the primary hub of the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines. In addition, it is also the main hub of most of the private airlines in Bangladesh including Regent Airways, Novoair and US-Bangla Airlines. The annual passenger handling capacity of the airport is 18.5 million passengers and this passenger handling capacity is predicted by CAAB to be sufficient until 2026. In 2014 the airport handled 9.1 million passengers and 248,000 tonnes of cargo. Average aircraft movement per day is around 190 flights. Ground handling at the airport is provided by Biman Ground Handling, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
Location and access
The airport is located in Kurmitola, 11 NM (20 km; 13 mi) north of the capital Dhaka. It can be accessed by the eight-lane Airport Road. To the north of the airport lies Uttara and Gazipur, while Dhaka city lies to its south. There is a railway station immediately opposite to the airport named Airport Railway Station. The hotel nearest to the airport is the Dhaka Radisson Blu Hotel, closely followed by Le Meridien Hotel and Dhaka Regency Hotel. A Best Western hotel opened in late 2014. The airport has been almost engulfed by the city, due to the expansion and development work of real estate companies and the government, prompting the authorities to consider relocating the airport elsewhere.
In 1941, during the Second World War, the British government built a landing strip at Kurmitola, several kilometres north of Tejgaon, as a spare landing strip for the Tejgaon Airport, which at the time was a military airport, to operate warplanes towards the war fields of Kohima (Assam) and Burmese war theatres.
After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Tejgaon Airport became the first civilian airport in what was then East Pakistan, present day Bangladesh. In 1966 a project was taken by the then Pakistan Government to construct a new airport and the present site north of Kurmitola was selected. A tender was floated for the construction of the terminal building and the runway under the technical support of French experts. A rail station (present day Airport Railway Station) was also built near the site for the transportation of construction materials. However, the new airstrip was only halfway done when the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out in 1971. During war, the airstrip suffered severe damage.
After independence, the government of Bangladesh restarted works abandoned by the previous contractors and consultants during the war. The government decided to make the airport the country's main international airport and appointed Aéroports de Paris of France as its new consultants. The airport began operations in 1980 after the main runway and central portion of the present terminal building was formally opened by then President Ziaur Rahman as Dacca International Airport ("Dacca" is the former spelling of "Dhaka"). The project took a further three years to complete, during which time Ziaur Rahman was assassinated in 1981. Thus after its completion in 1983, then President Abdus Sattar re-inaugurated the airport as Zia International Airport. In 2010, the government changed the airport's name once again, from Zia International Airport to Shahjalal International Airport, in honour of Shah Jalal, one of the most respected Sufi saints of Bangladesh.
On 6 December 2011, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (flight ZA006) stopped for refuelling at Shahjalal International Airport during a distance, speed, and endurance record attempt. This aircraft, powered by General Electric GEnx engines, had flown 10,710 nautical miles (19,830 km) non-stop from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington eastward to Shahjalal International Airport, setting a new world distance record for aircraft in the weight class of the 787, which is between 440,000 pounds (200,000 kg) and 550,000 pounds (250,000 kg). This flight surpassed the previous distance record of 9,127 nautical miles (16,903 km), set in 2002 by an Airbus A330. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft then continued eastbound from Dhaka to return to Boeing Field, setting a world-circling speed record of 42 hours, 27 minutes.
Development and expansion
In 1992, the airport terminal area experienced rapid expansion with addition of boarding bridges and equipment. A multistorey car park with space for 500 cars was also built at this time.
The airport has been set up and upgraded with technology and instruments worth BDT 70 million up to the 2nd quarter of 2012, by the CAAB. They include: instrument landing system, distance measuring equipment and flight calibration system, which will help the operational standards of the airport. 2 more boarding bridges have been operational, and another is under manufacturing. Asphalt runway overlay began in December 2012 by the Bangladeshi company Abdul Monem Ltd; it took 6 months to complete. Further improvements in the taxiway and runway lighting system will be made by funds from Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) worth BDT 4.5 billion. Further projects include: primary and secondary radar, a new control tower and a modern drainage system. Parking facilities are being upgraded, both for passenger and cargo aircraft, of the airport extension works of passenger and cargo aprons are also going on. The project will cost BDT 440 million and will provide facility to park four wide-bodied passenger aircraft and two wide-bodied cargo aircraft side by side. In recent years CAAB has completed modernisation and beautification of two terminal buildings; constructed five aircraft parking bays; Installed two more boarding bridges; re-installed power plant to ensure 24 hours power supply; added more passenger check-in and immigration counters and baggage conveyor belts.
In the recent years, the internal designs such as concourse, toilets and others parts were also upgraded. The duty-free shops brought in international luxury branded products. As part of the development plan, the first international chain cafe, Barista Lavazza was opened in the international terminal in 2014 followed by Krispy Kreme in 2017.
A feasibility study is underway to decide about adding a parallel, second runway at a cost of ৳10 billion (US$130 million) by 2014. The project has been taken to cope with the rising air traffic, and take pressure off the lone runway, to double the capacity of the airport. CAAB predicts that the airport's traffic will surpass 10 million passengers and freight. Currently, the airport can handle 10 flights an hour, 1 per 6 minutes. However, 60% of the airport's 2000 acre land remains unutilised.
The airport consists of three major terminals, T1 and T2 for international flights and a third terminal (known as Domestic Terminal) for domestic flights. In T1 and T2, the ground floor is used as the arrivals hall and the upper floor serves as the departures hall. Both the arrivals hall and the departures hall are on the same floor in the one-storey domestic terminal. A VIP terminal is built only about 200 meters from the main gate and is only used occasionally. A third international terminal is planned for construction.
Airlines and destinations
Accidents and incidents
- On 28 September 1977, a Japan Airlines Flight 472 en route from Mumbai to Tokyo was hijacked by 5 Japanese Red Army terrorists shortly after takeoff, and forced the plane to land at then Zia International Airport. The terrorists' demand of $6 million and release of 6 JRA terrorists from Japanese prison was met by the Japanese Prime Minister. Bangladesh Air Force was deployed to control the situation in the ground and to facilitate negotiations.
- On 5 August 1984, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight from Chittagong crashed in the swamps near Zia International Airport. All 45 passengers and 4 crew of the Fokker F27 died, making it the worst aviation disaster of Bangladesh. The flight was piloted by Kaniz Fatema Roksana, the first female commercial pilot of Bangladesh.
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Media related to Shahjalal International Airport at Wikimedia Commons