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BAIRA demands special flights for Middle East-bound migrants

Staff Correspondent
09 Dec 2021 00:00:00 | Update: 09 Dec 2021 09:08:23
BAIRA demands special flights for Middle East-bound migrants
BAIRA leaders address a press briefing protesting against the unusual hike in airfares for migrants at DRU on Wednesday – Focus Bangla Photo

Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) has demanded special flights for around 50,000 Middle East-bound migrants to cope with the current air ticket crisis.

Md Fakhrul Islam, former secretary general of BAIRA and a leader of BAIRA Sommilito Somonnoy Parishad, raised the demand at a press briefing at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) on Wednesday.

BAIRA former president and BAIRA Sommilito Somonnoy Parishad panel head Mohammed Abul Basher as well as other leaders were present there.

The air ticket crisis began as different airlines doubled one-way fares for destinations in the Middle East, causing trouble for remittance senders.

Fakhrul said around 50,000 migrants in Bangladesh were waiting to fly to countries in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.

He said migrants were facing trouble due to the unbelievable hike in ticket prices and the unavailability of tickets to countries where Bangladeshi migrants work.

“We want an immediate solution from the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh. The international mileage policy should be followed and labour fares should be introduced for migrants,” he said.

He also said airlines had increased airfares illegally and targeted the Middle East-bound passengers.

National flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines was also liable for the irrational hike as the company only focuses on profits, he said.

“As a result, local and international airlines have hiked their fares too while agents and syndicates make profits unethically,” he said.

The BAIRA leader said many migrants coming from families of farmers and day labourers were unable to fly to their respective destinations on schedule due to a lack of proper monitoring by the regulatory authorities.

BAIRA says Bangladeshi migrants pay several times more fares for Middle East-bound flights compared to those in neighbouring India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

It says a six-hour Dhaka-Riyadh flight costs Tk 80,000-90,000 while passengers pay Tk 65,000 for a Dhaka-New York flight, which is a 23-hour journey.

BAIRA has recommended that airlines do not issue advance group tickets to travel agencies and unsold tickets be visible online for transparency.

Earlier, the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh on Tuesday urged the government to fix logical airfares for the Middle East-bound migrants.

At a press conference in the capital, its President Monsur Ahmed Kalam said a migrant now spends over Tk 75,000 for a one-way Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight to Saudi Arabia while the fare is Tk 74,000-75,000 on Saudia.

He said the fare was between Tk 40,000 and Tk 45,000 earlier.

Monsur also said the Saudi Arabian government had made Covid-19 booster doses mandatory for migrants to enter the country, which would come into effect in February.

“But a large segment of migrants has yet to be double vaccinated. In addition, the sudden hike in ticket prices just added to their woes.”