Construction of the third terminal of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) is progressing in full swing with completion reaching 2% more than the April target.
Officials say the soft launch of the much-awaited terminal is expected within September-October next year.
After visiting the project site at Kurmitola of the capital on Monday, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mahbub Ali told journalists, "The construction of this world-class airport is 1.9% ahead of the expected target.
"By April 8, the construction of the third terminal was supposed to be 32.7% complete. However, in reality it is at 34.6%. The construction will be completed within the stipulated time."
Expressing hope that the terminal can be inaugurated within the scheduled December 2023 timeline, he said, "Passengers at the third terminal will enjoy the same quality of services they get at London's Heathrow Airport or Thailand's airports.
"There will be no compromise with quality," he said of the project being implemented by Mitsubishi and Fujita of Japan, and Samsung of South Korea.
"Even if there is some work left, the soft launch can be done earlier. During the Covid-19 outbreak, construction work of the third terminal did not stop for a single day," he added.
Around 4,000 national and international workers are working on the project, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).
Once completed, the terminal can serve twice the number of passengers than the Dhaka Airport is handling currently, officials said.
On the elevated expressway, the state minister said, "These works need to be coordinated. Work on the elevated expressway will begin in a few days, when the terminal will be connected to the expressway.
"The prime minister has instructed us to extend the tunnel to Ashkona Hajj Camp. We will work accordingly," he said
After completion of the project, HSIA will be able to provide service to over two crore passengers every year, according to the CAAB.
Asked if the cost of the project could increase, Mahbub Ali said, "We will see. There is no guarantee."
CAAB Chairman Air Vice-Marshal Mafidur Rahman said, "The construction of the third terminal is going on as per schedule. There was a small delay because work on the Dhaka Elevated Expressway is starting a little late."
When the third terminal is completed, it will double the airport's annual passenger and cargo handling capacities, according to AKM Maksudul Islam, the project director of the third terminal.
Recently, he told a visiting Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association delegation that after completion of the terminal, the airport will be able to handle five lakh tonnes of cargo from the current two lakh tonnes.
According to project sources, the terminal is being constructed on 542,000 square metres of land and will have a floor space of 230,000 square metres, 115 check-in counters, 64 departure and 64 arrival immigration desks.
Meanwhile, construction of a high speed taxiway at the airport is also being done quickly.
The CAAB chairman on Monday said, "The plan was to complete the work by June. However, it will be completed within the first week of May."
The chairman also said that the work of installing a new radar at the airport has started.
On December 28, 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the Tk21,300 crore "Third Terminal of HSIA" in Dhaka aimed at increasing the airport's passenger and cargo capacity.
The project received the green signal from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council on October 24, 2017. It involved an estimated cost of Tk13,610crore.
However, in 2019, the cost was later revised. Of the total cost, the government will provide Tk5,000 crore and the rest will be funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.