Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, formerly Zia International Airport, is the largest airport in Bangladesh. It is also used by the Bangladesh Air Force. The airport is the hub of most of the private airlines in Bangladesh, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Regent Airways, Novoair and US-Bangla Airlines. In 2014, it handled 8.1 million passengers.
In 1941, 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. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Tejgaon Airport became the first civil airport in what was then East Pakistan. In 1966 a project was taken by the then Pakistan Government to construct a new airport at present site north of Kurmitola. However, the new airstrip was halfway done when the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out in 1971. 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. The airport began operations in 1980 as Dacca International Airport. In 1983, the airport was re-inaugurated as Zia International Airport. In 2010, the government changed the airport’s name once again, to Shahjalal International Airport, to honour Shah Jalal, one of Bangladesh’s most respected Sufi saints.