Vol. 5 Num 29 Fri. June 25, 2004  

Ctg airport in private hands
Efficient management expected
The decision by the Cabinet Purchase Committee to entrust the Thai Airways with the responsibility of managing Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport is the first of its kind. It represents a significant move by way of associating a foreign company with the operation of an important infrastructural facility. The second international airport of the country was clearly not being operated to its full commercial potential -- thanks to unimaginative and resource-constrained management. It has great potential because of its geographical location. When it was inaugurated a few years ago, high hopes were expressed by the government and business community alike about its potentiality of being a bridge-head to the East Asian countries. In fact, it was hoped that the export oriented trade of Chittagong will get the much needed boost. While the potential remains intact, it is now for the new management to realise it to the full.

For whatever reasons, the airport failed to become an optional international gateway for air travellers it was expected to be. The civil aviation authority could not attract well-known airliners to use this airport, mainly because the latter realised that it was not going to be viable for them in terms of business. The government must take this into serious consideration while deciding on their policies. It was hoped that the business hub of Bangladesh would be buzzing with foreign trade delegates frequenting the city thus making the airport more useful. But lack of a decentralisation policy proved otherwise. Now we hope that with the induction of the Thai Airways, the Shah Amanat Airport will come into bloom.

It would also, in our view, be able to complement the government's eastward policies. At the same time, entrusting a foreign private company with the running of an important facility like an airport shows that the government is not only serious but also getting liberal with its privatisation policy in regard to handling and management. And why not? If public sector management fails to deliver, then it is the only best option to try out other avenues; and in this case if a private company is able to bring the airport back to life, it would be beneficial to the economy of Bangladesh. Let the new management blend commerce with efficient service delivery.