Bangladesh has the potential to become an aviation hub due to its geographic location, said Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman.
"Capacity building of the airlines, infrastructural development and skilled manpower are necessary for that to happen," he said at a seminar titled "Aviation and Tourism opportunity: Connecting Bangladesh with the world" at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the capital on Friday.
The seminar was held on the sidelines of the Bangladesh International Travel and Tourism Expo organised by the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (Atab) at BICC.
Presenting the keynote at the seminar, Mafidur Rahman said Bangladesh is important for geographic reasons as all South Asian countries can be reached within two hours from here.
Besides, any country in Asia can be reached in four hours and all European countries in about six hours. Hence, Bangladesh has the potential to become an aviation hub, he said.
The Caab chief said it is important for airports and airlines to ensure passenger convenience and comfort.
"We have to increase the capacity of our airports. The government has taken several mega projects for the development of this sector. Construction of the third terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is underway in full swing. A massive 'Export Cargo Complex' is being constructed at Osmani International Airport in Sylhet and the runway extension work of Cox's Bazar Airport is also in progress," he said.
"Our population is around 170 million. Around 7.5 million people are working abroad while .25 million foreigners are working in Bangladesh. We have the opportunity to connect businesses with other countries," he said, adding that it is important to develop air traffic to become a developed country and Bangladesh has many possibilities in that regard.
"Aviation contributes 3.6% ($2.7 trillion) of the world's gross domestic product (GDP). Airport operation, navigation, internal employment, engineering, and airlines are contributing to global GDP. When one expatriate returns to the country, at least five people get direct and indirect employment," Mafidur Rahman said.
Bangladesh is improving in the aviation sector. There are many types of tours like business tours, commercial tours, medical tours, and educational tours which impact our economy, increasing aviation demand and connectivity, he said.
The number of flights is increasing every year but providing cheap fuel is the biggest challenge at the moment, the Caab chairman said, adding that the Russia-Ukraine war is creating a negative impact on the aviation sector.
"Another big challenge is to keep pace with the latest technology as aviation is a technology-dependent sector. We need to create skilled manpower for expanding this sector," Mafidur Rahman said.
SM Nazmul Anam, regional officer of Flight Safety at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), said country branding and developing infrastructure are necessary for Bangladesh to be an aviation hub.
Bangladesh Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abu Tahir Muhammad Zaber and Atab President SN Manzur Murshed also spoke in the seminar chaired by Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Md Mokammel Hossain.
According to organisers of the expo, airlines, hospitals, travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, resorts and other travel and tourism-related service organisations from more than 15 countries are participating in the expo which will conclude on Saturday.