Japan boosts Bangladesh aviation: Hazrat Shahjalal Airport expansion

In a landmark collaboration, Japan is bolstering Bangladesh’s aviation landscape through a significant investment in the expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

In a pivotal move aimed at strengthening the ties between Bangladesh and Japan, the two nations formalized an agreement on December 24, 2023. This agreement underscores Japan’s unwavering commitment to aiding Bangladesh in its pursuit of developmental objectives. Central to this accord is a substantial financial commitment in the form of a loan amounting to $540 million. This funding has been designated for the ongoing construction activities related to the third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, a crucial hub for air transportation in Bangladesh.

Moreover, the agreement extends support for the establishment of a dedicated cargo terminal and the development of associated facilities. These initiatives are integral components of a comprehensive airport expansion project. Notably, the financial infusion of $540 million represents the third tranche of loans from Japan, contributing to the overall investment in the airport expansion. The cumulative commitment from Japan for this expansive project now stands at an impressive $2.21 billion.

This financial support is anticipated to advance the infrastructure and operational capabilities of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Furthermore, the collaboration signifies a deeper partnership between the two countries, fostering cooperation and shared efforts in the realm of economic development and regional connectivity. The impact of this significant collaboration is poised to extend beyond the realms of aviation, potentially catalyzing broader socio-economic advancements in Bangladesh.

The details of the loan, as revealed by the Japanese embassy in Dhaka, outline a favourable arrangement with an interest rate of 1.30 per cent. The repayment terms extend over 20 years, with the commencement of repayments deferred by a grace period of 10 years. The official signing ceremony for this agreement occurred in Dhaka and featured the involvement of notable individuals, including IWAMA Kiminori, the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, and Shahriar Kader Siddiky, who serves as the secretary to the Economic Relations Division.

This financial collaboration has its roots in December 2019 when discussions began on the airport expansion project. The estimated total cost of this extensive project is Tk 21,300 crore. A substantial portion, Tk 15,000 crore, is contributed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with the remaining funds being provided by the Bangladesh government.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina played a pivotal role in inaugurating the terminal partially on October 7, highlighting its strategic significance. While the practical utilization of the terminal by airlines is anticipated shortly, the overarching goal of the project is to meet the growing demands in the aviation sector. This involves not only expanding the airport’s capacity but also improving accessibility and reinforcing security measures.

In pursuit of shared objectives, the expanded airport is poised to enhance regional connectivity, a focal point underscored in the official statement. This aligns seamlessly with Japan’s steadfast commitment to bolstering Bangladesh’s development, forging a strategic partnership aimed at mutual prosperity.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has delineated the envisioned features of the new terminal, highlighting its capacity to accommodate 37 aircraft and provide facilities for 26 boarding bridges. Presently, the airport’s two existing terminals facilitate the operations of 33 airlines, overseeing the takeoff and landing of 120-130 aeroplanes. Daily, these terminals efficiently serve approximately 30,000 to 35,000 passengers, contributing to an annual throughput of around 8 million passengers.

The emphasis on augmenting airport infrastructure aligns with broader regional connectivity goals. This initiative not only addresses the immediate demands of air travel but also sets the stage for increased operational efficiency, improved passenger experience, and heightened capacity to cater to the growing aviation needs of the region. The collaboration between Bangladesh and Japan, as evidenced by the expansion project, stands as a testament to the shared commitment to fostering economic growth and connectivity through strategic infrastructural development.

Upon the successful completion and full-scale operation of the third terminal, the expanded Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is poised to accommodate an additional 12 million passengers annually. This substantial growth is supported by a robust infrastructure, featuring 59 arrivals counters (including five automated ones) to streamline passenger services. For departures, the terminal boasts 115 check-in counters, including 15 self-service counters. Further enhancing efficiency, there are 66 departure immigration counters, including 10 automatic passport control counters.

The holistic approach to infrastructure development extends to ancillary facilities, with plans for a multi-storey car parking structure in the terminal’s construction pipeline. This parking facility is designed to accommodate a significant 1,044 cars, addressing the increasing demands of an expanding airport.

The strategic infusion of funds aligns with Japan’s consistent role as a reliable partner in Bangladesh’s developmental journey, encapsulating a narrative of cooperation, mutual benefit, and shared prosperity. The collaboration sets a precedent for meaningful international cooperation, emphasizing the potential positive impact on both nations’ economic landscapes.