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Destination of the Week

Hello and welcome to our October DOTW theme, Hurricane. It takes us to four cities that were hit extremely badly by hurricanes or typhoons or any other cyclone type. Our first Hurricane destination is the airport that services the region that had the most casualties ever due to a typhoon.

The 1970 Bhola cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and India's West Bengal on 12 November 1970. Up to 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm, primarily as a result of the storm surge that flooded much of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. The cyclone formed over the central Bay of Bengal on November 8 and traveled north, intensifying as it did so. It reached its peak with winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) on November 11, and made landfall on the Bangladeshi coast the following afternoon. The Indian government received many ship reports from the Bay of Bengal that were giving meteorological information on the cyclone, but as Indo-Pakistani relations were generally hostile, the information was not passed on to the Pakistani government A large part of the population was reportedly taken by surprise by the storm. The Pakistan Meteorological Department issued a report calling for "danger preparedness" in the coastal regions in danger during the day on November 12. As the storm neared the coast, a "great danger signal" was broadcast on Pakistan Radio. The storm surge devastated many of the offshore islands, wiping out villages and destroying crops throughout the region. In the most severely affected upazila, Tazumuddin, over 45% of the population of 167,000 was killed by the storm.

The government was severely criticized for its delayed handling of the relief operations following the storm, both by local political leaders in East Pakistan and in the international media. The opposition Awami League gained a landslide victory in the province, and continuing unrest between East Pakistan and the central government triggered the Bangladesh Liberation War, which led to widespread atrocities and eventually concluded with the creation of the country of Bangladesh. This storm as well as the war would also inspire ex-Beatle George Harrison and Bengali musician Ravi Shankar to organize The Concert for Bangladesh, the prototype benefit concert, to raise money for aid, in 1971.

Over 3.6 million people were directly affected by the cyclone, and the total damage from the storm was estimated at USD 86.4 million (at 1970 value). The survivors claimed that approximately 85% of homes in the area were destroyed or severely damaged, with the greatest destruction occurring along the coast. Ninety percent of marine fishermen in the region suffered heavy losses, including the destruction of 9,000 offshore fishing boats. Of the 77,000 onshore fishermen, 46,000 were killed by the cyclone, and 40% of the survivors were affected severely. In total, approximately 65% of the fishing capacity of the coastal region was destroyed, in a region where about 80% of the protein consumed comes from fish. Agricultural damage was similarly severe with the loss of $63 million worth of crops and 280,000 cattle. Three months after the storm, 75% of the population was receiving food from relief workers, and over 150,000 relied upon aid for half of their food.

Bangladesh' vulnerability is mainly due to its location. The affected area, with capital Dhaka, is located on the Buriganga River in the heart of the Bengal delta. Dhaka has an estimated population of more than 15 million people, making it the largest city in Bangladesh and one of the largest cities in the world.

Dhaka is served by Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (VGHS), formerly Zia International Airport and Dacca International Airport (VGZR), the largest airport in Bangladesh. Operated and maintained by the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh, it is also used by the Bangladesh Air Force. Located in Kurmitola in northern Dhaka, it started operations in 1980, taking over as the country's sole international airport from Tejgaon Airport. It is the hub of all Bangladeshi airlines, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines, United Airways, Regent Airways, Novoair and US-Bangla Airlines. The airport's IATA code – "DAC" is derived from "Dacca", the previously used spelling for "Dhaka". It received its current ICAO code in March 2011 - its original ICAO code, also used in FS9 and FSX, was VGZR.

The airport has an area of 1,981 acres (802 ha). The airport has a capacity of handling 8 million passengers annually, and is predicted by the CAAB to be enough until 2026. In 2012, it handled 5.6 million passengers, and 214,000 tonnes of cargo. As of September 2014, 29 passenger airlines connect 38 cities, both domestic and international. Average aircraft movement per day is around 190 flights.

National flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines is the ground handling provider of the airport. Biman flies from the airport internationally to 19 cities in Europe and Asia.

In 1941, during the Second World War, the British government built a landing strip at Kurmitola, several kilometres north of Tejgaon, as an extra landing strip for the Tejgaon Airport, which at the time was a military airport, to operate warplanes towards the war fields of Kohima (Assam) and Burmese war theatres.

After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Tejgaon Airport became the first civil airport in what was then East Pakistan, current day Bangladesh. In 1966 that a project was taken by the then Pakistan Government to construct a new airport at present site north of Kurmitola was selected and tender floated for construction of terminal building and runway under technical support of French experts. For transportation of construction materials a rail station (present airport railway station) was built near the site. However, the new airstrip was halfway done when the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out in 1971. During war, the airstrip suffered severe damage.

After independence, the government of Bangladesh restarted works abandoned by the previous contractors and consultants during the war. It decided to make the airport the country's principal international airport and appointed Aéroports de Paris of France as its new consultants. The airport began operations in 1980 after the main runway and central portion of the present terminal building was formally opened by then-President Ziaur Rahman as Dacca International Airport ("Dacca" is the former spelling of "Dhaka"). The project took a further three years to complete, during which time Ziaur Rahman was assassinated (in 1981), so, after its completion in 1983, then-President Abdus Sattar re-inaugurated the airport as Zia International Airport.

In 2010, the government changed the airport's name once again, from Zia International Airport to Shahjalal International Airport, to honour Shah Jalal, one of Bangladesh's most respected Sufi saints.

The airport has been set up and upgraded with technology and instruments wup to the 2nd quarter of 2012. They include: instrument landing system, distance measuring equipment and flight calibration system, which will help the operational standards of the airport. Two more boarding bridges have been operational, and another is under manufacturing. Asphalt runway overlay began in December 2012 by the Bangladeshi company Abdul Monem Ltd; it took 6 months to complete. Further improvements in the taxiway and runway lighting system will be made by funds from Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). Further projects include: primary and secondary radar, a new control tower and a modern drainage system.

Parking facilities are being upgraded, both for passenger and cargo aircraft, of the airport extension works of passenger and cargo aprons are also going on. The project will provide facility to park four wide-bodied passenger aircraft and two wide-bodied cargo aircraft side by side. In recent years CAAB has completed modernisation and beautification of two terminal buildings; constructed five aircraft parking bays; Installed two more boarding bridges; re-installed power plant to ensure 24 hours power supply; added more passenger check-in and immigration counters and baggage conveyor belts.

The airport consists of three major terminals, T1 and T2 for international flights and a third terminal (known as Domestic Terminal) for domestic flights. In T1 and T2, the ground floor is used as the arrivals hall and the upper floor serves as the departures hall. Both the arrivals hall and the departures hall are on the same floor in the one-storey domestic terminal. A VIP terminal is built only about 200 meters from the main gate and is only used occasionally.

VGHS (or VGZR) has a single runway:
14/32, 3,200 m, 10,500 ft

Live flight tracking is available here.

We can guide you to charts and scenery files.

Charts FS9 FSX X-Plane

And now for our video selection. We'll start with some plane spotting.

Our second video is a Biman DC10-30 about to land on RWY14.

And we conclude with the same aircraft and a night departure from RWY14.

That's all we have this week. Next week, we'll be be in the Phillippines, for typhoon Haiyan that claimed over 6,000 lives last year.

   Display # 
1 Destination of the Week#217 Sunday, 28 September 2014 17
2 Destination of the Week#216 Sunday, 21 September 2014 37
3 Destination of the Week#215 Sunday, 14 September 2014 50
4 Destination of the Week#214 Sunday, 07 September 2014 49
5 Destination of the Week#213 Sunday, 31 August 2014 72
6 Destination of the Week#212 Sunday, 24 August 2014 70
7 Destination of the Week#211 Sunday, 17 August 2014 91
8 Destination of the Week#210 Sunday, 10 August 2014 119
9 Destination of the Week#209 Sunday, 03 August 2014 271
10 Destination of the Week#208 Sunday, 27 July 2014 306
11 Destination of the Week#207 Sunday, 20 July 2014 346
12 Destination of the Week Archive Monday, 20 June 2011 4786