The government formally began on Sunday work on upgrading Cox's Bazar Airport into an international one in an ambitious move to make Bangladesh an aviation hub.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually inaugurated the work of Cox's Bazar Airport runway expansion across the Bay. She joined the inaugural function from Ganabhaban through video teleconferencing at 10:00am.
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali, Secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Md Mokammel Hossain and Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Air Vice-Marshal M Mafidur Rahman spoke on the occasion.
Inspired by Hong Kong International Airport, Bangladesh government has undertaken the Cox's Bazar airport runway expansion project by reclaiming land of the sea.
The objective of the project involving $185 million is to attract tourists in the sea beach town of Cox's Bazar.
The eye-catching runway expansion project aims to turn Cox’s Bazar Airport into an international one with an airline hub where people from home and abroad can visit as the most modern tourist destination.
The government is implementing a large number projects in Cox's Bazar under a mega plan to develop the district like Singapore or Hong Kong.
Foreign and local experts said the first-ever deep-sea port at Matarbari under Maheshkhali in Cox's Bazar will be the game changer for the country's economy as it will play a significant role in enhancing trade connectivity with Bangladesh's main import destinations China and ASEAN countries.
The government is also establishing island-based ecotourism parks along with a modern international airport and economic zones and a power generation hub in the district. Despite pandemic, officials said all the projects in Cox’s Bazar are running in top gear.
Works are also underway to set up three ecotourism parks at Sabrang, Naf and Sonadia to attract foreign investment in Cox's Bazar and ensure various facilities for local and foreign tourists.
The dream of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib - a “Golden Bangladesh” - is no more a myth as Bangladesh with the right policies and timely action under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has achieved an impressive growth and development in the last 12 years.
Officials said the government has taken up a massive project to expand the runway of Cox’s Bazar airport by reclaiming land of the sea with an aim to upgrade the airport to international standards and offer domestic and foreign holidaymakers a hassle-free trip to the world's longest unbroken sea beach.
State-of-the-art technology will be used to build the runway. As per the design of Cox's Bazar International Airport, its runway will stick right out into the blue sea waters, making a flight take-off even more exciting.
CAAB officials said the runway will be the longest in Bangladesh after the completion of the project in May 10, 2024 with an estimated cost of Tk 1,568.86 crore. It will be implemented with the government's own fund.
On its completion, the new 10,700-foot runway will allow much larger and wide-bodied aircrafts like Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 747-400 to use the airport, paving the way for smooth operation of international flights.
After an intense bidding process, the CAAB inked the deal on February 9 with a Chinese joint venture of Changjiang Yichang Waterway Engineering Bureau (CYWEB) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) on the expansion of Cox's Bazar Airport runway.
This is the first maritime runway expansion project in Bangladesh. Under the agreement, the contractor will extend the existing 9,000ft runway by 1,700ft towards Maheshkhali Channel through the coastal land reclamation, which will allow all giant aircrafts to take off and land on the coastal runway, and enable Cox’s Bazar Airport to act as a veritable international airport.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the contractor, CYWEB-CCECC JV, mobilised personnel at the site immediately after the signing of the contract with CAAB.
CAAB sources said the main construction work would begin once the Prime Minister virtually unveils the foundation stone of the project.
They said the latest technology will be used to construct the amazing runway by reclaiming the coastal land.
The project will include the installation of an airfield ground lighting system, installation of instrument landing systems, construction of safety walls and a bridge over the Bakkhali river, according to CAAB officials.
The Cabinet Committee on Purchase at a meeting on December 30, 2020, approved the proposal of the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry to appoint the joint venture of CYWEB and CCECC for the expansion work.
Meanwhile, highly-placed official sources said that the government has decided to upgrade all the eight operational airports across Bangladesh, considering its growing economic activities, including trade, tourism and industry, which are expected to get a big boost in the coming years.
They said the expected economic progress would improve and sustain aviation prospects of Bangladesh due to its advantageous location as many European and African countries are now approaching Bangladesh to establish aviation connectivity with the South Asian country.
Sources said investors now found their movement inside Bangladesh smoother than in the past as domestic air services were available.
Until 2019, CAAB sources said the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) handled around seven million passengers but there are predictions that the air travel to and from this air station would double in a few years.
That’s the reason a third terminal is being built at the HSIA and once the terminal is completed the airport could handle some two crore passengers annually, CAAB officials said.
They said that the air transport would play a dominant role in the future and the government was, therefore, taking various initiatives to integrate the country’s air services with other modes of transport.