Migrants’ Travel: Suspension of flights another blow for them

The return of several thousand Bangladeshi migrants to 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 despite the suspension.

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Leaders of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (Atab) said migrant workers were facing various difficulties in returning to work.

Baira and Atab leaders said many migrants can't afford the tickets as their prices have gone up. Some can't even come to Dhaka amid the "lockdown" to catch their flights.

Besides, migrant workers are also facing problems in getting tested on time 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 government decided to operate around 100 special flights to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Singapore in a week from April 17 so that migrants could return to work despite suspension of all international flights.

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

This put around 20,000 to 25,000 Bangladeshi migrants in 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 prices for Middle East countries increased a lot, which was a huge financial burden on the migrants.

He said air fare of Middle East countries, specially 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 enough time to get tested for Covid-19 due to the tight flight schedule.

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