Eighteen years after the Sylhet airport was declared an international one in 1998, the operation of international flights to and from the airport will start on March 18 with ‘Flydubai’ being the first.
Sources said the airport was initially used for the operation of domestic flights from Shahjalal International Airport by the country’s national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines. The airport was upgraded to ‘Sylhet MAG Osmani International Airport’ on December 20, 1998.
Dubai-based airlines ‘Flydubai’ is going to start its direct flight operations to and from Sylhet MAG Osmani international Airport on March 18.
Masum Mia, station manager of ‘Flydubai’, Sylhet, said, “We’ve taken necessary preparations to start the direct flight operation on March 18 next. In the first three months, flights will be operated from Sylhet to Dubai, Quatar and Saudi Arabia five days a week and later for seven days a week.”
He said, “We’ve already got the clearance from the Civil Aviation Authorities Bangladesh (CAAB) to start the flight operation.”
The officials concerned of the airport, said some 600-700 passengers go to different destinations by the flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines every day. They have to depend on Biman flights for having no other option.
Almost 50 lakh expatriates of the Sylhet region have been living in the UK, the USA and the Middle East countries. They have to undergo a lot of sufferings due to the lack of direct international flights.
A refueling station was set up at the airport at a cost of Tk 91 crore in 2015 but its fuel remains unsold for lack of international flights, causing huge losses.
Besides, the authorities concerned of different private airlines companies including, Air Arabia and Jet Air, will launch flight operations at the airport soon.
Hafiz Ahmed, manager of the airport, said the renovation work on different portions of the airport, including the runway, is underway and on completion of all the works it will be possible to start direct international flight operations.
The government has already taken an initiative to modernise the airport and the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a project involving an estimated cost of Tk 452 crore in a bid to increase strength of the existing runway and taxiway of the airport, he said.
The airport will be modernised in a way that various aircraft, including wide-bodied Boeing-777 model planes, can land and take off from the airport, he added.