12 special flights for migrant employees leave Dhaka today
A total of 12 special flights are departing the Hazrat Shahjalal AIRPORT TERMINAL in the administrative centre today, carrying migrant workers back again to their respective work destinations in the centre East, who were stuck in the united states because of the ongoing lockdown.
Many of these flights have previously left Dhaka Airport today, by the evening, while some remain scheduled to leave Dhaka by tonight with “no cancellations yet announced”, said Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, Director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Of these flights, Biman Bangladesh Airlines is to use four flights, to Riyadh with 384 passengers, Dammam with 197 passengers, Jeddah with 211 and Dubai with 239; Oman Air to operate someone to Muscat with 205; Emirates and Flydubai, each someone to Dubai, with 247 and 60 respectively; US-Bangla three flights, to Dubai with 60 passengers, Doha with 102 and Muscat with 18 only; Saudia one to Riyadh with 225; and Etihad Airways to fly someone to Abu Dhabi carrying 125 passengers.
Better than yesterday
The second day of special flight businesses so far look like much better than the first, as yesterday the return of several migrant personnel to different countries, especially Saudi Arabia, suffered a major hit with cancellations of eight flights in total.
Of the eight flights, Biman was forced to cancel five flights -- four to Saudi Arabia and someone to Singapore -- while Fly Dubai cancelled two flights to Dubai, and US-Bangla cancelled one to Oman.
These cancellations resulted in a chaotic situation at the Dhaka airport as about 200 Saudi Arabia-bound migrant staff staged a protest against these untimely cancellations inside airport yesterday morning. These were passengers of Biman who claimed the flag carrier must have informed them in advance of these cancellations.
Several migrant personnel gathered at the Dhaka airport and Biman's Motijheel office in the capital since early yesterday to catch their flights in Biman, faced unimaginable sufferings because of the cancellation of their flights.
Migrant workers claimed to undergo such sufferings because of having less coordination and sincerity from Biman’s end.
After an inter-ministerial meeting at Dhaka Airport yesterday, Chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman informed the media that they can check out the matter to see whether Biman had any lack of sincerity on ensuring the flights to Saudi Arabia.
US-Bangla, however, did inform the passengers well beforehand about its cancellation of flight to Oman because of shortage of passengers.
The passengers of all the cancelled flights of yesterday were accommodated to today’s flights on the said routes.
Chaos at Biman and Saudia offices
While special flights were departing the Dhaka Airport today, a huge selection of migrant workers gathered before Biman's Motijheel office in the administrative centre and Saudia's office at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel for the next consecutive day to get their return tickets reissued for heading back to their respective workplaces in several countries.
These migrant personnel said their visas will be expired within next 3 to 4 days if they neglect to get back to Saudi Arabia.
Because of the chaotic situation involving several migrant employees before Biman's Motijheel office, a migrant worker suffered serious problems for his chest and face as he fell on a glass door at the entrance of any office building. He was then rushed to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Staging demonstration in front of the Biman office, many passengers said they had to handle untold sufferings and had to invest plenty of money to attain Dhaka from different districts amid the nationwide "strict lockdown".
But after reaching the office, the passengers are not getting information from the Biman officials on when they will be able to obtain return tickets reissued, said a migrant worker from Sylhet.
Another Saudi-bound migrant worker said he was scheduled to come back to his workplace on April 16. But he cannot fly due to the weeklong ban on international flights from Bangladesh. His visa will expire on April 21. If he cannot reunite in time, he'll be in serious trouble, the migrant worker sighed.
No flight to Singapore yet
Alternatively, as of the next day of special flight businesses amid the lockdown, there's been no flight to Singapore yet, resulting in more sufferings for Singapore bound migrant workers.
Today morning, many of them gathered at Dhaka airport with banners stating requests to launch special flights to Singapore allowing them to save their jobs before its too late.
Among those migrant personnel said Singapore Airlines had scheduled to operate a flight to Singapore tonight. But after making an extended and tiring travel from Madaripur to Dhaka airport today, he learned that the flight has been cancelled.
The migrant worker further mentioned that he already paid SD 2200 as quarantine charge only that is mandatory after arriving in Singapore.
Even many have spent about BDT 4.5 lac including agent money, visa cost etc to get back to Singapore.
Some said, if they fail to reach Singapore by April 19, they will have to choose entry approval again. This will double their expenses, sighed the Singapore bound expatriate workers.
But, in response, Director of Dhaka airport Touhid-ul Ahsan said, Singapore Airlines has not confirmed any flight schedule yet. “Until they confirm a flight schedule, by definition, there can't be a cancellation to begin with.”
Regarding, Biman’s flight to Singapore, the airline’s spokesperson Tahera Khandaker said, “Special flights to Singapore are scheduled from April 20. If nothing changes, passengers should be able to lay out then.”
Airport authority’s statement
HSIA Director Touhid-ul Ahsan held insufficient communication between your passengers and the respective airlines they are flying in in charge of the struggle passengers are facing after arriving at Dhaka airport.
Passengers are suffering because they are not properly alert to the flight timings, the airport director said.
He added, “While Saudia didn't have any flight scheduled yesterday, its passengers still attained the airport to catch the flights they mistakenly thought there will be, only to meet with sufferings.”
Thus, he urged better communication between the passengers and the respective airlines to avoid such mishaps from happening.
And from the airport’s end, they have an information centre, the director mentioned. If anyone wishes to call and receive information about flight schedules, they are able to most definitely do so, added the airport director.
However, it isn't that the airport doesn't have lacks of itself in maintaining smooth businesses of flights.
There is meant to be flight information on the boards at the airport aswell as on its website. Yet there is none yesterday and the same has been witnessed today aswell. Therefore, passengers remain in confusion about their flight timings, departures and even cancellations.
In reply, the airport director said they might see to fix these issues immediately.