Carrier Biman Bangladesh could restart carrying fruit and vegetables to Europe after a three-year absence, under pressure from Bangladeshi exporters. From the first week of January, it is deploying a 787-9 on the Dhaka-London-Manchester route, and the airline is holding talks with traders’ group the Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables & Allied Products Exporters’ Association.
While the carrier does bring cargo into Europe, it does not currently carry perishables, which it mainly exports to the Middle East.
Cargo transported directly from Bangladesh was banned in 2016, following an EU ruling that it was a “high-risk” country for security. Instead, air cargo had to be screened in third-party countries before arrival in the EU. While the suspension was withdrawn in 2018, Biman Bangladesh continued not to carry perishables into the EU.
But the carrier’s management has now submitted a work plan to Bangladesh’s civil aviation ministry on carrying vegetables and fruits to Europe.
It said the phytosanitary certification situation had improved, following the setting up of a modern vegetable processing warehouse and cold storage by the Ministry of Agriculture. Europe-bound farm cargo is sent to the airport in sealed vehicles after grading, processing and packing at the central packing house.
Agricultural products are now screened in Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) set up at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. Foreign airlines must pay a penalty for any consignment which fails to meet EU standards and must be returned. Biman plans to follow the same process.
“Biman has direct flights to London, but other airlines must transit in their respective countries. We want to send vegetables to London by Biman,” exporters’ association president SM Jahangir Hossain said. He acknowledged that discussions were ongoing with the Bangladeshi authority.