A direct flight of Dubai-based carrier Flydubai landed yesterday at Sylhet Osmani International Airport, which was the first international flight for the airport.
The flight came on a codeshare agreement with domestic carrier Regent Airways, which is an aviation business arrangement where two or more airlines share the same flight. This was the first codeshare flight for Bangladesh as well.
Rashed Khan Menon, civil aviation and tourism minister, officially inaugurated the international flight service from Osmani International Airport, followed by a ceremony at the lounge.
The inauguration of an international flight from the airport is a milestone and Regent Airways made codeshare possible with Flydubai, the minister said.
The carrier will operate two flights a day between Sylhet and Dubai.
This is the first direct international flight from the airport, 18 years after the government declared it an international one, to facilitate the quick travel of non-resident Bangladeshi living abroad, mainly in the United Kingdom.
Budget carrier Flydubai first launched direct flights from Sylhet to Dubai in 2015, but it had to delay operations, as the airport lacked refueling stations and proper ground support. The government constructed a refueling station in 2016.
The minister said the government has taken steps to upgrade the airport, including allocation of funds to upgrade the runway, which will be implemented soon.
Air Vice Martial Ehsanul Haque Chowdhury, chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, said the duty of the aviation authority is to provide support to the airlines. They are keen on turning the airport into a true international airport by ensuring all the facilities needed, he added.
Sudhir Sreedharan, senior vice president, commercial of Flydubai, said the airways began operating in Dhaka and Chittagong in 2011. But seeing demand, they have started the direct flight service from Sylhet to Dubai and beyond, he added.
He thanked Regent Airways and authorities in Bangladesh for their cooperation on the codeshare arrangement.
Regent Airways Chairman Yasin Ali said the codeshare flight on the Dubai-Sylhet-Dubai route marks the start of a new era in aviation in Bangladesh.
Shah Md Gulzar Ali, a passenger on the flight who lives in the United Arab Emirates, told The Daily Star that the direct flight would help them go to their homes in Sylhet easily.
The flight landed in Sylhet at 3.05pm with 140 passengers and returned at 5.30pm with 169 passengers.