Migrants’ Travel: Suspension of flights another blow for them

The return of thousands of Bangladeshi migrants with their workplaces abroad faced another blow as suspension of regular international flights to and from Bangladesh was extended for another week from April 22.

However, special flights to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Singapore will continue regardless of the suspension.

Leaders of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (Atab) said migrant personnel were facing various difficulties in time for work.

Baira and Atab leaders said many migrants can't spend the money for tickets as their prices have risen. Some can't even come to Dhaka amid the "lockdown" to catch their flights.

Besides, migrant personnel are also facing problems in getting tested promptly for Covid-19, mandatory for travel abroad.

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) yesterday extended the flight suspension inline with a government decision have strict "lockdown" for one more week.

On April 15, the federal government made a decision to operate around 100 special flights to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Singapore in weekly from April 17 in order that migrants could go back to work despite suspension of all international flights.

CAAB on April 11 suspended operation of all international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh for weekly from April 14.

This put around 20,000 to 25,000 Bangladeshi migrants in big trouble, according to an estimate of Baira and Atab.

Fakhrul Islam, former finance secretary of Baira and president of Recruiting Agency Welfare Organization of Bangladesh, yesterday told The Daily Star that ticket charges for Middle East countries increased a whole lot, which was a huge financial burden on the migrants.

He said air travel of Middle East countries, exclusively Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Qatar, has increased by Th 40,000 to Tk 70,000.

Mohammad Halim, a Saudi-bound migrant worker, said different airlines were demanding extra for re-issuing their return tickets.

Anisur Rahman, another Saudi-bound migrant, said many of them were not getting plenty of time to get tested for Covid-19 as a result of tight flight schedule.