Passengers have been facing immense suffering due to chaos and mismanagement at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) since the introduction of an eight-hour daily closure of the lone runway for renovations.
The HSIA authorities assured that they will take all necessary measures so that runway closure, which came into effect on Thursday midnight, would not cause disruptions in flight schedules and passenger services.
According to sources at HSIA, the schedules for at least 17 outbound international flights, operated by Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Saudia Airlines were changed in the last three days due to the runway closure. The disruption also caused delays in the landing for more than 20 inbound flights.
Consequently, passengers have suffered a lot. Apart from delays in flights, long queues of passengers of several flights at the same time at immigration and scarcity of trolleys added to their woes.
“I came to the airport early in the morning as my flight was scheduled to depart at 9:30 am. Almost one hour has gone but I do not know when my flight will leave the airport,” Jahid Bin Rayhan, a Singapore bound passenger of Emirates said on Sunday.
The authorities are having a hard time managing the flight schedules. Many flights are being delayed while some flights are hovering in the sky without getting the green signal for landing.
Passengers of several flights are getting off at the same time which is making it almost impossible to manage everything properly.
“I don’t know why, but our plane landed after hovering in the sky for one and a half hours. Passengers of two or three flights lined up for immigration at the same time after landing, creating a crowded atmosphere like a kitchen market,” Muntahina Akter, a passenger told at the airport after coming from Dubai.
Check-in counter services and passenger handling, including loading and unloading of passengers’ luggage, and other airline services are under the ground handling department.
But they do not have enough manpower for this work. Now the pressure has increased even more as night flights are scheduled at the daytime and evening.
Manpower has not been increased in ground handling while the authority has stopped paying allowances to the workers for their additional work (overtime). As a result, manpower crisis and mismanagement have increased.
Airport officials, claiming anonymity, said that there are about 2,200 trolleys for passenger service at HSIA. Of these, over 1000 trolleys are unusable. When several flights take off and land at about the same time, the passenger pressure increases, then the trolley crisis becomes severe.
According to airport sources, 85 to 90 flights of 28 airlines take off and land at HSIA every day. About 20,000 passengers travel on these flights.
HSIA director Group Captain AHM Tauhid ul Ahsan said, “The trolley is being repaired to provide service to the passengers. About one thousand trolleys were given a week ago for repairs. We are going to buy new trolleys as well.”
Asked about the chaos and mismanagement, he said, “There are some problems but we are trying to resolve those. The first few days were tough. We hope that the passengers will get better service in the coming days.”
The HSIA runway remains closed every day from 12:00 am to 8:00 am to facilitate the construction and expansion of taxiways for the construction works of the third terminal of the airport. The daily eight-hour closure will continue till June 2022.