Migrant workers’ protests

CAAB permits more Saudia flights

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) on Tuesday said it will approve operation of additional flights by Saudi Arabian Airlines so that all Bangladeshi migrant workers can return to their workplaces, reports UNB.

The decision came following migrant workers' demonstrations at Karwan Bzar in the city demanding tickets to Saudi Arabia in the morning. 

"We have discussed with the Saudi Ambassador, we will approve all the flights that Saudi Arabian Airlines would require to take the Bangladeshi migrant workers," CAAB chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said at a programme at Shahjalal International Airport. 

Saudi Arabian Airlines was given permission to operate flights two weeks back when they applied, Rahman said. 

The approval came with a condition that Bangladeshi Airlines should also be allowed to operate flights to Saudi Arabia, he said. 

"But, we came to know that Biman Bangladesh Airline received permission for only chartered flights, not the commercial ones in Saudi Arabia.", the Chairman said. 

"Many proposed to shut the Saudi flights but we have approved it", he said.  

Talking about the hiked fare of air tickers, he said Saudia Airlines informed that they have not blocked any travel agency but some local agencies hiked the price after blocking tickets. 

"We are trying to spot those agencies by the law enforcers", he added. 

Earlier in the morning, a group of Bangladeshi migrant workers demonstrated at Karwan Bazar demanding tickets to Saudi Arabia so that they can join their workplaces. 

Saudi Arabia is set to allow flights from Dhaka from October 1 after around seven months of coronavirus restriction. 

Several hundred migrant workers gathered in front of the Saudia Airlines office around 10am to secure tickets. 

The airlines issued a notice that they have suspended issuing tickets, sparking protests. 

On Monday, Biman Bangladesh Airlines Managing Director Md Mokabbir Hossain said they got approval to operate flights to the kingdom from October 1. 

Landing permission is required before beginning of seat reservation. But Saudi Arabia is yet to provide it, he said. 

"So, now it's not possible to start allocating seats for the passengers," the MD said, adding that flights will be announced as soon as landing permission is received. 

Seats will be allocated only to passengers who have a ticket to Saudi Arabia. For now, new tickets will not be sold. 

Detailed information on seat allocation will be available on Biman's website from today. 

The oil-rich kingdom is the most popular destination for migrant workers from Bangladesh. Last year, Bangladeshi migrants sent back US$18.355 billion. Of the amount, $3.647 billion (19.87 percent) were sent from Saudi Arabia.