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Airports


Airports soon after the Second World War broke out the British authority felt the need of constructing Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) stations in Dhaka and other militarily important places in eastern Bengal. The construction of Tejgaon Airport at a place named Dainodda started in 1941 and the building of a landing strip at Kurmitola (Balurghat) started at about the same time. The British Air force used the airstrip for safe up keeping of their aircrafts. The airstrip at Tejgaon and Kurmitola had military fighter plane landing facilities.

The first RIAF light fighter (airframe covered with fabrics) landed on the under construction runway of Tejgaon at the beginning of 1943 and after development of the airport facilities, it became the first civil airport. Apart from the British air force, the Ispahani Group and its partners used the airport for operation of an airliner named orient airways established by them in 1946. Since 1947, both domestic and international flights started operations from Tejgaon Airport and within a few years the government started construction of a full-fledged international airport at Kurmitola in and around the British built airstrip.

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In 1947, the Orient Airways operated two types of carriers from Tejgaon airport. These were a DC-3 (Dakota) and a DHC-6 (twin otter). Very soon the Pakistan International Airlines was formed as the national flag carrier to fly within the country and abroad. Consequently, the government took over both military and civil aviation and made them public sector ventures and the Orient Airways had to be closed down.'

In 1948, the government had established Eastern Pakistan Flying Club to train local youths in piloting. In 1956, a branch of the Flying Wing of the Plant Protection Department was established in East Pakistan. Tejgaon Airport became gradually busy with flights of planes of these agencies as well as of the PIA, which had acquired piston engine aircrafts like Dakotas and Convairs and super constellations converted to turbo propeller type of aircrafts like Viscounts and Fokker. Later, jet aircrafts like Boeing, Comet and DC-8 were added to the fleet. The airport also served foreign airlines including British Airways and Pan American Airways. PIA started its Boeing jet services in 1960. The Civil Aviation Authority and Airport Development Authority took measures to upgrade Tejgaon airport for accommodating traffic in accordance with international standards. The domestic airports in operation in East Pakistan during the Pakistan period were those of Jessore, Chittagong, Thakurgaon, Ishwardi and Comilla.

The airports under the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) at present are the three international' - Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (Kurmitola, Dhaka), Osmany International Airport (Sylhet) and Amanat Shah International Airport (Chittagong) - and the domestic airports are barisal, jessore, saidpur, rajshahi, Shamsher Nagar (Sylhet), cox's bazar, Ishwardi and comilla. New airports planned to be constructed are Bogra, Bagerhat, Tungipara, Hatiya, Ramgati, and Noakhali. (see map in air transport)

biman bangladesh airlines limited , the national airliner of Bangladesh was established on 4 January 1972 as Air Bangladesh International. It started its operations with Fokker F-27 (Friendship) and ATP planes. Later, it procured wide body turbo jets and some other types of aircrafts for international flights. In the year 2000, it had five DC-10s, three F-28s, three Airbuses, and two ATPs of its own, and one DC-10 and one Airbus on lease. A few private airlines are also in operation.

Because the Tejgaon Airport proved to be too small to cater to the requirements of the increased traffic, the Zia International Airport (ZIA) was constructed. The new airport was opened for operations in 1981, when the Tejgaon Airport was handed over to the Bangladesh Air Force. At present the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport has relatively spacious terminal buildings, hangers, technical areas, a freight village (warehouse) etc, and other modern amenities and equipment. Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport connects almost all the major cities of the world with Bangladesh. From here the Bangladesh Biman operates domestic and international air services. Now in 2011, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and the two other international airports operate regular flights to many destinations of the world.'

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh started issuing operating licenses to private airliners since 1996. The Air Wing of the Plant Protection Department and the Flying Club work in coordination with CAAB. Operating offices of some private civil airlines had been established in the premises of ZIA and Tejgaon airports. These require permission from the CAAB for using other airports.

At present, private airliners operate short take off and landing (STOL) types of aircraft for their domestic flight. These airlines are now running domestic flight from Tejgaon/Zia Airports to Comilla, Barisal, Chittagong and Shamshernagar. Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport has commercial links with and provides landing rights to many national and transnational airlines including those of Pakistan, India, Japan, UK, USA, Kuwait, KSA, China, Germany, Bhutan, UAE, France, Russia, Netherlands, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal, Maldives, Indonesia, Australia, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Scandinavian countries, Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Republic of Korea and Switzerland. [Syed Mohd Saleh Uddin]