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Indian airlines eye BD air passengers amid growing Dhaka-Delhi link: Envoy

India’s low-cost carrier IndiGo begins journey in Bangladesh Aug 1

Indian airlines eye BD air passengers amid growing Dhaka-Delhi link: Envoy 

Photo: Minister and Indian envoy with IndiGo officials at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel on Wednesday.

Dhaka, July 25 : Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said the increasing interest of their airlines on routes between Bangladesh and India is in tandem with the progress made by trade, commercial and people-to-people ties between the two countries.

“The two countries will need to keep pace with the rapid growth and changes in the bilateral relations in the area of civil aviation,” he said while speaking at the launching ceremony of IndiGo flight on Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka route on Tuesday.

IndiGo, the largest low-cost carrier of India, is all set to make a debut in Bangladesh on August 1 this year.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shajahan Kamal attended the function as the chief guest.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Mohammad Mohibul Haque, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, Air Vice Marshal M Naim Hassan and Chief Commercial Officer IndiGo William Boulter were also present.

Over the last two years, the High Commissioner said, they have also taken several measures to liberalise their visa regime to facilitate easier travel of tourists and businessmen from Bangladesh to India.

“As a result, Bangladesh is now one of the biggest sources of tourist arrivals in India accounting for over 16 percent of total tourist arrivals in India,” Shringla said adding that bilateral trade has increased substantially and has crossed the US$ 9 billion milestone in the year 2016-17.

During the visit of Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Bangladesh this month, the two countries also inaugurated the largest Indian Visa Application Center anywhere in the world.

Shringla said this Centre will further add to the convenience of Bangladesh nationals planning to visit India.

“The growth in air traffic between the two countries will require augmentation of aviation infrastructure. Both countries can partner in achieving this objective,” he said.

The Indian diplomat said India is already working with Bangladesh to develop the infrastructure at Saidpur Airport under its third Line of Credit.

“Indian private sector can also partner with Bangladesh stakeholders in modernisation of airports in Bangladesh and contribute to improving passenger comfort and convenience and also to revenues of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh,” Shringla said.

In this context, he said, it would be useful to have civil aviation consultations between the two countries to discuss various issues, including capacity entitlement (currently at 61 frequencies per week for each country), updating the bilateral agreement on air services and possibility of implementing an open skies policy.

“I am sure, their advent will provide travellers with greater options, convenience and more competitive fares. I encourage them to consider opening other sectors, including to cities in India not connected to Bangladesh by air services,” Shringla said.

The High Commissioner said they have made tremendous progress in improving connectivity between India and Bangladesh by facilitating creation of multimodal transport links and improving infrastructure for the same.

“The launch of the IndiGo flight today is another milestone towards meeting the objective of improving connectivity,” he said.

There are presently around 100 flights operating weekly between Bangladesh and India connecting various Indian cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai to Dhaka and Chittagong.

Shringla said new flights between different destinations in India and Bangladesh are giving further boost to trade, tourism, cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts.

The entry of more airlines also fosters greater competition thereby generating more value for the customers, he added.

William Boulter said, “We’ll operate daily flights between Dhaka and Kolkata. IndiGo has completed 12 years of successful operations in the India market as a low-cost carrier, and adding Dhaka to its network will further augment the regional connectivity that we aspire to provide to our customers.”