Saudi-bound special flights for migrants start after hassel
Published : Sunday, 18 April, 2021 at 12:00 AM Count : 128
After cancelling seven international flights arranged specially for carrying the migrants to different destinations in Middle East, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines special flight (BG 4035) left Dhaka for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday at 6pm with 265 passengers.
Biman's Deputy General Manager Tahera Khondoker told this correspondent that the flight left Hazrat
Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) at 6pm after getting the Kingdom's landing permission. With the departure, the authority hopes that flight operations will now be resumed normally, if passengers are available.
Earlier, Biman's Manager (Bookings and Sales) Jahidul Islam told this correspondent that Saudi Arabia-bound special flights for migrant workers will be operated from Sunday. New tickets will be issued for those who brought tickets for April 14 to17.
Decision on those who have tickets for April 20 and beyond will be informed later, he added.
Earlier on the day, the authorities cancelled seven special international flights for migrant workers stuck in the country for not getting landing permission from Saudi Arabia and inadequate passengers for operating flights.
Meanwhile, several hundred of Middle East-bound migrant workers have demonstrated at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and in front of the offices of Biman and Saudi Arabian Airlines after a Saudi-bound special flight of Biman was cancelled early on the day.
They also blocked Karwan Bazar intersection, halting traffic movement on the road.
Several hundred Saudi Arabia-bound migrant workers started demonstration at Dhaka Airport following the cancellation of the Biman flight.
According to law enforcement agency sources and Biman officials, BG 5039 was scheduled to depart from Dhaka Airport at 6:15am for Riyadh. But Biman was forced to cancel the special flight as Saudi authorities didn't give landing permission.
Around 300 passengers, who reached the airport before six hours of the departure time of the flight, started shouting and staged demonstration when the airport and Biman authorities informed them at around 2:00am that the flight was cancelled.
A HSIA official said the special flight of Biman was cancelled as the Saudi authorities didn't give landing permission. All passengers will be taken to a hotel in the city and they will fly to Saudi Arabia on the next available flight, he added.
Around 9:00am, several hundred Saudi bound Bangladeshi migrant workers started gathering in front of Saudi Arabian Airlines office at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel and staged demonstration.
Bogura Sadar's Delwar Hossain, a Saudi bound passenger, said he was scheduled to fly for Saudi Arabia on April 14, but the flight was cancelled. After the government announcement to send migrant workers through special flights, he came to Dhaka spending Tk 1,500.
"Now, the flight is cancelled. Where will I go and stay now?" he inquired.
Kishoreganj's Mamun Miah, who came to Dhaka from Saudi Arabia on vacation, said that he was set to fly for the Kingdom, but the flight was cancelled in the early hours of Saturday.
"After watching the news on television that the government will arrange special flights for us, I came to Dhaka. But I was not allowed to enter the Biman office now," he said adding that he fears that he might lose his job.
Around 12:00pm, the expats took position in front of Hotel Sonargaon and blocked the road, demanding confirmation of flights to Saudi Arabia on different dates.
The situation became normal after Saudia authorities assured migrant workers of confirming their return tickets to Saudi Arabia.
After around an hour of demonstration, the airlines officials asked them to come in front of the Saudia office and stand in queue according to flight date. The officials requested those scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia on April 20 and onward to go home.
The Middle East-bound workers also demonstrated in front of Biman office at Motijheel since morning.
Talking to the media, several expatriate workers said due to countrywide strict lockdown they had a very difficult time to reach the airport on time. But at the last moment, they were informed about the flight cancellation.
They blamed Biman authority for the untold sufferings for not informing them earlier.
On April 15, the government decided to operate necessary special flights to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Singapore in one week from April 16 to send several thousand migrant workers, who remained stuck due to weeklong ban on international flights, to their workplaces.
The government on April 11 suspended operation of all international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh for a week from April 14 to contain spread of Covid-19.
According to Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) and Association of Travel Agencies of Bangladesh (ATAB) about 20,000 to 25,000 migrant workers were supposed to face trouble due to flights cancellation.