A country plagued by poverty and squeezed in on its eastern and western borders by India, Bangladesh has not had an easy time since the former east Pakistan managed to break away from Pakistan in 1971. The country mostly only made the news when hit by massive cyclone or other natural disasters and no-one would have thought that they might play a future role in air cargo.
A ‘small tiger’ in the making?
We reported a month or so ago that the national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines was studying whether they should form their own all cargo airline due to the fact that exports from the country are hitting an all-time high and expectations are that they’ll grow further.
We have gotten used to referring to past Asian economic start-ups as ‘Tigers.’
It started decades ago in countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and even China, which has now grown to be the Asian economic powerhouse. No mention those days of Bangladesh.
Almost all of the air cargo exported from Bangladesh is either in the bellies of foreign carriers or on the main decks of freighters. Something which would not please any national carrier. It was only last week that Russia’s AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) announced it will introduce a twice-weekly B747 freighter service in to Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka in order to take a part of the growing export cake.
ABC’s decision to route via Dhaka may well prompt the Bangladesh authorities to look even closer at how their national carrier can benefit from the boom in exports which route mainly to Europe and the USA.
Garments are export number one
Production of garments is a flourishing business in Bangladesh although there are no large conglomerates turning them out, but rather many thousands of small ‘home type’ outlets which offer no safety or employee friendly working conditions. So far nobody seems to care about that, even though there are regular reports of devastating fires in such facilities with high loss of life.
The country is politically quite stable with the present government now entering its third term under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She has been instrumental in ensuring that the textile export business has developed into a flourishing multibillion industry. Last reports state that this is valued at over US$30 billion per year and is expected to double within the next decade.
Despite the continued poverty and havoc-wreaking storms, Bangladesh has moved up step by step from being Asia’s poor house into a new economic success story. Economic growth in 2018 was recorded at being almost 8% and the so called gross domestic product has almost reached 6% per annum.
So, no wonder that the country’s national airline wants more of a say in who benefits from the air cargo boom and although the country has proven itself as the present garment export king, they will have to keep an eye on other upcoming textile production areas, especially those situated in the horn of Africa.
A new tiger is born!
John Mc Donagh