Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (IATA: DAC, ICAO:VGHS), formerly Zia International Airport and Dacca International Airport, is the largest airport in Bangladesh.
Located in Dhaka, HSIA started operations in 1980, taking over as the country’s sole international airport from Tejgaon Airport. HSIA has an area of 1,981 acres (802 ha), and handles almost 66% of the country’s international and domestic arrivals and departures.
Approximately 4 million international and 2 million domestic passengers and 150,000 tons of freight and mail pass through our facility annually, which has a capacity of 8 million passengers per year, and is predicted by the CAAB to be adequate until 2026.
Currently, 26 passenger airlines operate in HSIA, connecting Bangladesh to 19 countries, and 34 cities, both domestic and international.
Seven freight and cargo airlines operate flights to the airport.
Average traffic activity in the airport per day is 190++.
It is also the home base and hub of all Bangladeshi airlines, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines, GMG Airlines, Novo Airlines, Regent Airways and United Airways.
HSIA is located in Kurmitola and was originally 11 NM (20 km; 13 mi) north of the capital Dhaka. It lies on the eight-lane Airport Road. To the north of the airport lies Uttara (Dhaka) and Gazipur, while Dhaka lies to its south. The railway station opposite to the airport is named Airport Station.
Terminals, airlines and destinations
HSIA consists of three major terminals, T1 and T2 for international flights and a third terminal (known as Domestic Terminal) for domestic flights. The arrivals deck is the ground floor and the upper floor is the departures hall. There is also a VIP Terminal less than 200 meters away from the main gate, which is used by dignitaries and delegates.
Development and expansion
In 1992, HSIA’s terminal area experienced rapid expansion with addition of boarding bridges and equipment. A multistory car park with space for 500 cars was also built at this time.
The airport has been set up and upgraded with technology and instruments worth 70 million up to the 2nd quarter of 2012. They include: Instrument landing system, Distance measuring equipment and flight calibration system. Two additional boarding bridges have also been made operational in 2012, and another one is currently undergoing construction.
In 2013, HSIA’s runway was rejuvenated with Asphalt overlay.
Further improvements in the Taxiway and Runway Lighting System, Primary and Secondary Radar, a new Control Tower and a modern Drainage System are also under consideration.
A feasibility study is underway to decide about adding a parallel, second runway at a cost of ৳ 10 billion by 2014. The project has been taken to cope with the rising air traffic, and take pressure off the lone runway, to double the capacity of the airport. CAAB predicts that HSIA’s traffic will surpass 10 million passengers and freight. Currently, the airport can handle 10 flights per hour, 1 every 6 minutes. However, 60% of the airport’s 2000 acre land remains underutilized.
In 1941, during the Second World War, the British government built a landing strip at Kurmitola, several kilometers north of Tejgaon, as an extra landing strip for the Tejgaon Airport, which at the time was a military airport, to operate warplanes towards the war fields of Kohima (Assam) and Burmese war theatres.
After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Tejgaon Airport became the first civil airport in what was then East Pakistan, current day Bangladesh. In 1966 that a project was taken by the then Pakistan Government to construct a new airport at present site north of Kurmitola was selected and tender floated for construction of terminal building and runway under technical support of French experts.
For transportation of construction materials a rail station (present airport railway station) was built near the site. However, the new airstrip was halfway done when the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out in 1971. During war, the airstrip suffered severe damage.
After independence, the government of Bangladesh restarted works abandoned by the previous contractors and consultants during the war. It decided to make the airport the country’s principal international airport and appointed Aéroports de Paris of France as its new consultants. The airport began operations in 1980 after the main runway and central portion of the present terminal building was formally opened by then-President Ziaur Rahman as Dacca International Airport (“Dacca” is the former spelling of “Dhaka”). The project took a further three years to complete, during which time Ziaur Rahman was assassinated (in 1981). Thus, after its completion in 1983, then-President Abdus Sattar re-inaugurated the airport as Zia International Airport.
In 2010, the incumbent Awami League government changed the HSIA’s name from Zia International Airport to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the honour of Shah Jalal, one of Bangladesh’s most respected Sufi saints.