Jashore Airport, the only stoppage for air travel in south-west Bangladesh, is reeling under a number of infrastructure problems even after seven decades of its establishment. They cause frequent schedule breakdowns at the government-run domestic airport resulting in miseries of passengers.
The airport was constructed by Britain during the World War II in 1946 as a military airbase on 225 acres of land. At present all the administrative work and navigation control are executed in one building only.
Furthermore, the runway is too narrow for bigger aircraft, the parking area for vehicles is scant and overgrown grasses obstruct movement on the adjoining VIP roads.
There is only one passenger check-point, and the seating arrangements for passengers and toilet facility are in a deplorable condition.
Seeking anonymity, a manager of a private airlines told The Business Standard that the Jashore airport lacks minimum facilities for passengers. However, the airlines authority is compelled to provide services despite the prevailing infrastructure problems.
"The radar is too old, and it creates difficulties for pilots," said Sabbir Hossain, Jashore manager of US-Bangla Airlines.
Masudul Haque, manager of Jashore Airport said, "Everyday around 800 people use the airport while hundreds more come to the airport to welcome and bid farewell to their near and dear ones."
It has two six-seated VIP rooms and one forty-seated lounge. The airport has only single check-point which often delays take-off of an aircraft. Also, a large number of passengers use single gateway both as an entrance and exit point.
Anisur Rahman, a passenger, said, "Jashore Airport gets crowded regularly with air travellers and their acquaintances, despite there is a dearth of facilities."
The family, friends who come to see off or welcome the passengers need to pay an additional Tk50 after struggling through a long queue. They can go only to the check-point and gateway of the airport.
"The number of passengers at the airport has stepped up due to the economic development in the ten districts of Khulna division including Jashore," said Mizanur Rahman Khan, president of the Jashore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"But the standard of the airport has not improved yet," he added expressing his concern.
Located at 140 kilometres south-west from Dhaka, the airport hosts at least twenty flights everyday to and from the capital. The flights are operated by the Biman Bangladesh Airlines, US-Bangla Airlines and Novoair.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines operated two flights per week at the beginning.
Airport Manager Masudul said he assumed his position recently. But the former administrator had sent a letter to the Civil Aviation Authority headquarters highlighting the existing problems and proposed capacity expansion with a 2000-feet runway, extended parking facilities and additional terminal buildings.
"If the proposals are accepted and implemented, the existing problems would be resolved," he added.
Jashore Airport is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh. Being one of the seven domestic airports in the country, it started its activities as a full-fledged commercial airport in 1960.