After Biman Bangladesh and Fly Dubai, US-Bangla Airlines also cancelled its special flight scheduled for today.
Kamrul Islam, general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines, told The Daily Star that they were forced to cancel the flight on Dhaka-Oman route due to a shortage of passengers.
"There were only 23 passengers on this flight. We informed all the passengers personally about the cancellation of the flight," Kamrul Islam also said.
He added that those passengers will be accommodated on tomorrow's flight.
The return of several thousand Bangladeshi expatriate workers to different countries, especially Saudi Arabia, suffered a major blow today -- the first day of the beginning of weeklong special flights from Dhaka due to a cancellation of a total of eight flights.
Of the eight flights, Biman was forced to cancel five flights -- four bound for Saudi Arabia and one bound four Singapore -- while Fly Dubai cancelled two Dubai bound flights, Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan told The Daily Star.
Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, managing director and CEO of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, told this correspondent even after getting slots (authorisation to either take-off or land), the Saudi authorities cancelled landing permission of Biman's four flights at the last moment.
The Biman MD also said the Singapore bound flight was cancelled due to shortage of passengers as some passengers cancelled their tickets and 72-hour long validity of Covid-19 test report was expired or there were delays in getting Covid-19 test reports.
Several hundred migrant workers who gathered at the Dhaka airport and Biman's Motijheel office in the capital since early yesterday to catch their flights in Biman, faced untold sufferings due to cancellation of their flights.
They also said Biman should have informed them well in advance about cancellation of its flights.
Migrant workers alleged that due to lack of coordination and sincerity of the national flag carrier and other relevant authorities, they had to face untold sufferings.
Biman MD Mostafa Kamal and the secretary, civil aviation ministry, Mokammel Hossain, however, denied the allegation.
After an inter-ministerial meeting at HSIA, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman today told media that they will look into the matter and see whether Biman had any lack of sincerity on ensuring its flight to Saudi Arabia.
The government on April 15 decided to operate around 100 special flights to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Singapore in one week from yesterday 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.