State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism M Mahbub Ali on Tuesday said the government introduced several policies and made regulatory reforms for civil aviation growth, targeting twice as many passengers by 2030.
"We are looking into a future where the carriage of air passengers would be doubled by 2030 while the Asia Pacific region is expected to become the largest air transport market," he said.
The state minister was exhorting as the chief guest at the inaugural session of the 30th Steering Committee Meeting of the Cooperative Development of Operational Safety and Continuing Airworthiness Programme, South Asia (COSCAP-SA) at a hotel in the capital.
High-level regional representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and civil aviation authorities of eight south Asian nations - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and hosts Bangladesh were present at the three-day meeting.
The state minister said Bangladesh is now in a position where investments in the aviation sector have proved to be cost-effective due to many comprehensive and sustainable development works taken by the present government.
"Work is underway to ensure the timely expansion of aviation infrastructure across the country, to increase passenger service, improve technical and public skills and ensure safe and smooth air navigation," Mahbub said.
He said these activities aim to transform Bangladesh into a prime aviation hub and attractive tourist destination.
The state minister added that a large network of air routes provided by Bangladesh, connecting the major destinations in South Asia, the Middle East and the Western world, has helped the development of international air transport to and from Bangladesh.
"Time has come to tap the market growth and harness the resources," he said, adding that the scope of air connectivity of the country is increasing through development and prosperity.
The state minister said the aviation sector has contributed about 0.08 per cent of the country's GDP in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
"If the trend continues, air transport in Bangladesh is forecasted to be able to draw an additional 12.1 million passengers, totalling more than 22 million passengers by 2038," he added.
Mahbub said Bangladesh's stable economy, growing GDP and forward-looking legislation have made viable grounds for encouraging investments in the aviation sector though it had somehow been stalled during the worst time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"But, by the far-sighted actions of the government and with the ICAO guidance we have brought trust and compatibility among the various stakeholders in the aviation community," Mahbub observed.
While the country is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, he said policymakers need to address the critical issues of capacity, talent, technology, and sustainability to strengthen the aviation system's foundations.
"We believe that global cooperation is the key to achieving progress and growth and COSCAP-SA with its cooperative approach has always been at the forefront," he said.
The state minister hoped that the meeting would provide the necessary impetus for the recovery from the pandemic by regaining air connectivity and a way forward to explore opportunities within the south Asian region.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Md Mokammel Hosain spoke as the special guest while Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman and ICAO regional director Tao Ma gave welcome statements and remarks respectively.