Special flight cancelled: Several hundred Middle East-bound workers protest in Dhaka | The Daily Star
01:03 PM, April 17, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:21 PM, April 17, 2021

Special flight cancelled: Several hundred Middle East-bound workers protest in Dhaka

Middle East-bound migrant workers have demonstrated at Dhaka Airport and in front of the offices of Biman Bangladesh Airline and Saudi Arabian Airlines after a Saudi-bound special flight of Biman was cancelled early today.

They also blocked Karwan Bazar intersection, halting traffic movement on the road. 

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Several hundred Saudi Arabia-bound migrant workers started demonstration at Dhaka Airport early today following the cancellation of the Biman flight.

BG 5039 was scheduled to depart from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 6:15am for Riyadh. But Biman was forced to cancel the special flight as Saudi authorities didn't give landing permission, sources at the HSIA said.

Around 300 passengers, who reached the airport over six hours prior to the departure time of the flight, shouted and demonstrated when the airport and Biman authorities informed them at around 2:00am that the flight was cancelled.

An official at the HSIA said the special flight of the national airliner was cancelled as the Saudi authorities didn not give landing permission.

Wishing anonymity, he also said all the passengers will be taken to a hotel in the city and they will fly to Saudi Arabia on the next available flight.

Around 9:00am, several hundred Saudi bound Bangladeshi expatriate workers gathered in front of Saudi Arabian Airlines office at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel.

Talking to The Daily Star, Delwar Hossain, who came from Bogura Sadar, said he was scheduled to fly for Saudi Arabia on April 14 but the flight got cancelled.

After the government announced that the workers will be sent through special flights, he came to Dhaka spending Tk 1,500.

"Now, where will I go and stay?" he asked. 

Mamun of Kishoreganj, who came to Dhaka from Saudi Arabia on vacation, said he was set to fly for the Kingdom but the flight was cancelled in the early hours of today.

"After watching the news on television that the government will arrange special flights for us, I came to Dhaka. But I was not allowed to enter the Biman office now," he said.

He fears that he might lose his job.

Around 12:00pm, the expats took position in front of Hotel Sonargaon and blocked the road, demanding confirmation of flights to Saudi Arabia on different dates.

The situation became normal after Saudia authorities assured migrant workers of confirming their return tickets to Saudi Arabia.

After around an hour of demonstration, the airlines officials asked them to come in front of the Saudia office and stand in queue according to flight date.

The officials requested those scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia on April 20 and onward to go home.

The Middle East-bound workers also demonstrated in front of Biman office at Motijheel since morning.

Talking to the media, several expatriate workers said due to countrywide strict lockdown they had a very difficult time to reach the airport on time.

But at the last moment, they were informed about the flight cancellation, they added.

They said they could have avoided these untold sufferings had Biman informed them about the flight cancellation earlier.

The government on April 15 decided to operate around 100 special flights to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Singapore in one week from today so that several thousand migrant workers who remained stuck in the country due to weeklong ban on international flights, can return to their workplaces.

The government on April 11 suspended operation of all international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh for a week from April 14 to contain spread of Covid-19.

According to Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (Atab) about 20,000 to 25,000 aspiring migrant workers were supposed to catch their due flights in a week starting from Wednesday.



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