Easterntimes, Special Correspondent, Dhaka, 17 October: Bangladesh is going to resume flights to India from October 28 under “air bubble” arrangement, after nearly eight months the communications were suspended due to coronavirus pandemic.
Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman confirmed the matter to Our Correspondent on Friday.
Three Bangladeshi airlines — Biman Bangladesh Airlines, US-Bangla Airlines, and Novo Air — will initially operate 28 flights a week while five Indian carriers — Air India, Vistara, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir — will run the same number of flights a week.
The CAAB chief said Biman is scheduled to operate flights on Dhaka-Delhi-Dhaka and Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka routes, US-Bangla Airlines on Dhaka-Chennai, and Novo Air on Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka route.
There is no transit facility for the passengers to fly to a third country, he said, adding that the passengers would have to undergo Covid-19 testing before flying.
According to CAAB, five Indian airlines will operate flights on Dhaka-Delhi-Dhaka, Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka, Dhaka-Chennai-Dhaka, and Dhaka-Mumbai-Dhaka routes.
CAAB chairman Mafidur said: “We expect initially that around 5,000 passengers from both the countries could travel each week.”
On August 27, India proposed resuming international flights with Bangladesh, which were suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Riva Ganguly Das, the immediate past Indian envoy to Bangladesh, made the offer during a meeting with State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mahbub Ali at the secretariat.
She proposed that Bangladesh join the Indian “air bubble” – a travel corridor between the two countries to reopen their borders and re-establish connections – and expressed India’s interest in working for the development of the aviation sector in Bangladesh.
On October 9, the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh announced resumption of online visa application services for Bangladesh citizens.
For now, visas will be provided in nine categories including medical, business, employment, journalists, diplomatic personnel, officials, UN officials, and UN diplomats.
At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic India stopped entry of all foreigners into its territory by halting visa approvals on March 12.
Bangladeshi people seeking medical treatment in India found themselves in grave trouble since they often go to India for the purpose.
From January 2018 to March 2019, at least 2,876,000 Bangladeshis visited India, and on average 10% of them went for medical treatment.