Eid-ul-Azha typically brings throngs of people to the ports, eager to go home before the religious festival. Launches are often overcrowded, and finding last-minute tickets is nearly impossible.
But this year, even with Eid just a couple of days away, there's little rush to get launch tickets.
People are wary about prolonged commutes in public transportation amid the pandemic, and this is clearly reflected at the ticket counters.
Upon visiting the ticket counters of Sundarban and Surovi launch in Barishal, this correspondent found out that ticket sales are low for the days leading up to Eid, while for other days, even one sale is rare.
Due to this, launch owners are yet to pay Eid bonus to their employees.
The Dhaka-Barishal route remains usually busiest during the two Eid occasions every year.
Desperate to reach home, people even opt for "black tickets" for a higher price from third party dealers.
Launch owners claim that they're getting less than half the passengers this year. "Only a few days left till Eid, but there's no rush to buy tickets in advance," they said.
Debashish Saha, staff of Sundarbans Navigation Company, said that Sundarban 10 and 11 will be plying during Eid time. However, there are no additional launches or double trips. The two launches' capacity is 400, but only 20 per cent of tickets could be sold for the dates July 28-30.
"The fare remains unchanged, but there aren't enough customers. This launch is usually one of the most sought-after during Eid," said launch supervisor Zakir.
The situation is similar for Parabat, Tipu-3, Manami and Adventure launch.
According to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), 18-20 launches usually operate on the Dhaka-Barisal route during Eid, with more than 12,000 cabins.
"Passengers aren't keen on travelling due to the pandemic," said BIWTA's Joint Director (Port and Transportation) in Barishal Ajmol Huda Mithu.
Saidur Rahman Ritu, vice president of Bangladesh Launch Owners' Association said, "The business has suffered huge loss due to the pandemic. Low sales during Eid is contributing to this loss."