Biman Bangladesh Airlines cancelled on Monday 10 out of 12 round-trip flights due to shortage of passengers on the first day of resumption of regular passenger flight operation on three domestic routes from Dhaka, while two private airliners witnessed fewer passengers than usual.
After two months of suspension amid the coronavirus crisis, the national flag carrier was set to operate on four round-trip flights to and from Dhaka, to and from Chattogram, Sylhet and Saidpur but it could only fly to Saidpur due to shortage of passengers.
Tahera Khondoker, deputy general manager (public relations) of Biman, said only four passengers travelled to Saidpur in the morning flight while 20 others arrived from the northern town on the return flight.
She said that Biman has not increased ticket fare but the passengers were very few.
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport officials said they took all preparations at the airport and were also monitoring activities so that passengers and others concerned would follow the health guidelines.
Two other private airlines — US-Bangla Airlines and Novoair — also witnessed less number of outgoing and incoming passengers.
Kamrul Islam, general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines, said that the first flight after resumption left Dhaka Airport for Chattogram at 7:00pm with 28 passengers on board.
Another US-Bangla flight left Dhaka for Saidpur at 8:30am with 51 passengers on board. The return flight had 54 passengers, said Kamrul Islam.
Novoair sales and marketing executives said they ferried 29 passengers of 72-seated aircraft on the first flight to Chattogram and returned with 21 while they flew to Sylhet with 28 passengers and returned Dhaka with 32. Four out of six flights to and from Saidpur witnessed an average of 50 per cent passengers.
The three airlines are scheduled to operate 48 daily round-trip flights on three domestic routes to and from the capital, after more than a two-month suspension to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 48 daily flights, 22 will be operated on Dhaka-Chattogram-Dhaka, 18 on Dhaka-Saidpur-Dhaka, and eight on Dhaka-Sylhet-Dhaka routes.
The Civil Aviation Authorities of Bangladesh chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said they were strictly monitoring health guidelines — including the social distancing instructions issued by his office — to operate the domestic flights.
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