Biman Bangladesh Airlines will be forced to suspend all its flights to three destinations in Saudi Arabia from May 20 due to travel restrictions from the Gulf country, sources in Biman said.
"The Saudi government has given various conditions for Bangladeshi citizens and to the respective airlines to follow which we think won't be possible for us to follow. That's why we will be forced to suspend flights to Saudi Arabia," a top official of Biman told The Daily Star, requesting anonymity.
He also said Biman has stopped selling tickets to the three destinations -- Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah -- after May 19.
At present, Biman is operating 18 flights weekly to these three cities in Saudi Arabia.
The fresh suspension of flights will put in uncertainty the return of several thousand Bangladeshi migrant workers to their workplaces in Saudi Arabia, sources at Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) and the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB), said.
Earlier, from April 14, the government had suspended international flights to and from Bangladesh to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Amid protests by several thousand Saudi returnee migrant workers in the capital, the government allowed special flights to five countries including Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Biman has extended suspension of all flights on the Dhaka-Manchester route till June 30 due to travel restrictions following the Covid-19 surge in the country.
On its website, Biman also said it has extended cancellation of all international flights for Madinah, Kuwait and Bangkok till May 31 as these countries have suspended flights from Dhaka.
The airlines also said all Kolkata, Delhi, Muscat, Kathmandu, and United Arab Emirates flights are suspended until further notice.
Sources at Baira and ATAB said the UAE, Oman, and Kuwait are the three major destinations, after Saudi Arabia, where Bangladeshi migrant workers are recruited in large numbers.
In a latest move, on May 10, Kuwait's civil aviation department announced a ban on direct commercial flight operations with Bangladesh and three other South Asian countries amid the Covid-19 pandemic, creating uncertainty over the return of several thousand Bangladeshis to their workplaces in the Gulf country.
The three other countries are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
Top leaders of different manpower recruiting organisations said the return of at least 25,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers to their workplaces in the UAE, Oman and Kuwait is uncertain due to suspension of flights from Bangladesh to these countries.
Earlier, the UAE, a major destination of Bangladeshi workers, suspended entry for travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka from May 12.
Late last month, Oman, Thailand and Singapore also announced suspension of regular flights to and from Dhaka to contain the Covid-19 spread in their respective countries.