Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh is set for a boost with the decision of Biman Bangladesh Airlines to begin services between Dhaka and Guwahati from July.
The industry today welcomed the decision, saying it would facilitate people-to-people contact and boost trade, primarily in the hospitality and tourism sectors, reports the Telegraph.
“People-to-people contact is a must for trade relationships to thrive. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) welcomes the decision of Biman Bangladesh to start flights between Dhaka and Guwahati. The cities being the gateways to Bangladesh and the Northeast respectively, (the move) will pave the way for easy travel. Tourism is an obvious beneficiary. Other sectors like perishable food and flowers and handicrafts will also benefit,” Abhijit Barooah, the co-chairman of CII, Northeast Council, told The Telegraph on Friday.
Export of fruits like pineapples and oranges from the region to Bangladesh will also see a rise. “There is a good volume of export of these items from the Northeast to Bangladesh. The opening up of the air route will further boost exports,” Barooah said.
The premier airline of Bangladesh plans to initially operate ATR aircraft on the route but is likely to press bigger aircraft, such as Boeing 737, into service subsequently.
“I am happy to say that Biman Bangladesh Airlines officials called on me last week to inform that they would start twice-a-week flights from Dhaka to Guwahati from July 1,” the Bangladesh high commissioner to India, Tariq A. Karim, told reporters in Shillong yesterday.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), while hailing the move, said it would boost economic ties between the region and Bangladesh. “Tourism will probably be the biggest beneficiary as there is substantial interest on both sides to visit each other. Connectivity to other international destinations via Dhaka airport will get a boost,” said Biswajit Chakrabarty, head of the North East Council, Ficci.
Indian Chamber of Commerce termed it a move to reconnect the northeastern states to bridge lost connections with people near the border and improve economic ties.
“It will indeed lead to promotion and development of economic and socio-cultural ties between the two nations,” said Ishantor Sobhapandit, the regional director (Northeast), Indian Chamber of Commerce.
Tour operators here say that the cost of travel and time taken will be cut down considerably.
“The service will cut down cost of travel by 50 per cent and reduce time considerably. At present, a passenger has to take a flight from here to Calcutta and catch a connecting flight to Dhaka,” said Debojit Bora, the president of Tour Operators’ Association of Assam.
LGBI airport director A.K. Verma told The Telegraph this afternoon that he was yet to be officially informed on the move. “I am aware of the move and probably it will be communicated soon. Guwahati will have another international flight after Druk Air introduced services from Paro to Guwahati en route to Bangkok via Calcutta about a year ago,” Verma said.
Flights in the Guwahati-Bangkok sector had died a premature death six years after it was introduced in April 2002.
Air India had commenced bi-weekly international operations from Guwahati to Bangkok with a 200-seater Airbus 310 aircraft. In February 2006, the flight frequency was reduced to once a week before being closed down in July 2008 because of mounting losses.