Readymade garment (RMG) exporters are witnessing substantial losses in business for missing freight transport deadlines as the number of scanners and flights at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in Dhaka is currently insufficient to meet demand.
HSIA stressed handling the increasing container cargo pressure as apparel buyers and brands are now eager to airship their goods to evade seaport congestion with rising demand at their home markets.
Many buyers are asking to send their goods through air freight as their stores are almost vacant due to the pandemic.
As a result, freight forwarders said 85% of the goods that Dhaka airport handles are RMG.
But shipments are facing delays as there are just two explosive detection system (EDS) scanners, which are presently dealing with 1,200 tons of dry cargo every day, of which 85% are clothing items.
Usually, 800 tons of cargo used to be run through the two EDS scanners, which was already a very tough task.
Now the task is dreadful, said a senior official of a chartered cargo flight operator in Dhaka asking not to be named.
With the increased demand for export, the situation has turned grimmer for the shortage of air freight flights, be it dedicated ones or through the spare luggage space onboard passenger planes.
Nevertheless, in contrast to the pre-pandemic period, from 15 flights a day, such flights have increased to 25 at present.
Yet, they cannot ship all the cargoes and nearly 200 tons of goods cannot be shipped due to lack of scanning.
Current construction work of the third terminal has also engaged a part of the cargo village which has stalled the goods handling process.
RMG exporters have voiced that due to airline shortage their cargo trucks have to wait three to five days outside the cargo village. At that time traffic police file cases against their vehicles.
Almost all airlines are now prioritizing China and many have even been suspending flights from Dhaka recently as they are getting three to four times higher payments from Chinese suppliers, added Ahmed, also an air freight operator.
In addition, a new rule stipulates exports to enter the airport 30 hours prior to the flight. Creating more barrier for the exporters.
On top of it, the cargo shipping charge has amplified 60% to 100% depending on the destinations. Creating more worry for the apparel makers.