Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (Bengali: হযরত শাহ্জালাল আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দর Hôzrôt Shahjalal Antôrjatik Bimanbôndôr) (IATA: DAC, ICAO: VGHS), formerly Zia International Airport, is the largest airport in Bangladesh. Operated and maintained by the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh, it is also used by the Bangladesh Air Force as a part of BAF Bangabandhu Base. 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".
The airport has an area of 1,981 acres (802 ha). The airport has a capacity of handling 15 million passengers annually, and is predicted by the CAAB to be enough until 2026. In 2014, it handled 6.1 million passengers, and 248,000 tonnes of cargo. Average aircraft movement per day is around 190 flights.
National flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines is the ground handling provider of the airport.
The airport is located in Kurmitola and was originally 11 NM (20 km; 13 mi) north of the capital Dhaka. It can be accessed by the eight-lane Airport Road. To the north of the airport lies Uttara and Gazipur, while Dhaka city lies to its south. There is a railway station immediately opposite to the airport named Airport Railway Station. The nearest hotel near the airport is the Le Meridien Hotel, Dhaka Regency Hotel. A Best Western hotel opened in late 2014.
Due to the expansion of the city, the airport has been engulfed by the city, prompting the government to consider relocating it elsewhere.
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.
On 6 December 2011, ZA006, a Boeing 787 stopped for fuel at Shahjalal International Airport during a distance, speed, and endurance record attempt. This aircraft, powered by General Electric GEnx engines, had flown 10,710 nautical miles (19,830 km) non-stop from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington eastward to Shahjalal International Airport, setting a new world distance record for aircraft in the 787's weight class, which is between 440,000 pounds (200,000 kg) and 550,000 pounds (250,000 kg). This flight surpassed the previous distance record of 9,127 nautical miles (16,903 km), set in 2002 by an Airbus A330. The aircraft then continued eastbound from Dhaka to return to Boeing Field, setting a world-circling speed record of 42 hours, 27 minutes.
In 1992, the airport terminal area experienced rapid expansion with addition of boarding bridges and equipment. A multistorey car park with space for 500 cars was also built at this time.
The airport has been set up and upgraded with technology and instruments worth BDT 70 million up to the 2nd quarter of 2012, by the CAAB. They include: instrument landing system, distance measuring equipment and flight calibration system, which will help the operational standards of the airport. 2 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) worth BDT 4.5 billion. 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 cost BDT 440 million and 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.
A feasibility study is underway to decide about adding a parallel, second runway at a cost of BDT 10 billion by 2014. The project has been taken to cope with the rising air traffic, and take pressure off the lone runway, to double the capacity of the airport. CAAB predicts that the airport's traffic will surpass 10 million passengers and freight. Currently, the airport can handle 10 flights an hour, 1 per 6 minutes. However, 60% of the airport's 2000 acre land remains unutilised.
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. A third international terminal is planned for construction.On 28 September 1977, a Japan Airlines Flight 472 en route from Mumbai to Tokyo was hijacked by 5 Japanese Red Army terrorists shortly after takeoff, and forced the plane to land at then Zia International Airport. The terrorists' demand of $6 million and release of 6 JRA terrorists from Japanese prison was met by the Japanese Prime Minister. Bangladesh Air Force was deployed to control the situation in the ground and to facilitate negotiations.
On 5 August 1984, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight from Chittagong crashed in the swamps near Zia International Airport. All 45 passengers and 4 crew of the Fokker F27 died, making it the worst aviation disaster of Bangladesh. The flight was piloted by Kaniz Fatema Roksana, the first woman commercial pilot of Bangladesh.
On 30 April 2012, a Royal Thai Air Force ATR-72-500 aircraft of 1st Air Division/6th Wing, 603sq, (serial L16-2/52, code 60314), sustained damage in a landing accident at the airport. The aeroplane suffered a runway excursion while landing. It came to rest against a concrete barrier, causing substantial damage to the right hand wing. Two passengers reportedly suffered minor injuries.
On 24 March 2017, a bomb carried by a man, exploded near a police checkpoint monitoring vehicles heading to the airport. The bomber was killed and two members of the Rapid Action Battalion were injured. ISIL claim responsibility for the attack.