Millennium Post

B'desh to resume flights to India from Oct 28 under 'air bubble' pact

Dhaka: Bangladesh is all set to resume flights to India from October 28 under 'air bubble' arrangement, after nearly eight months the communications were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports on Saturday.

Under a bilateral air bubble pact, airlines of both the countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions.

Since July, India has established such bubbles with several countries, including the US, the UK, France and Germany.

Three Bangladeshi carriers — Biman Bangladeshi Airlines, US-Bangla Airlines and Novo Air — would initially operate 28 flights a week, while five Indian airlines — Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara and GoAir — would operate 28 flights a week between the two countries, The Daily Star reported, quoting civil aviation and tourism ministry Senior Secretary Md Mohibul Haque.

Of the three Bangladeshi carriers, Biman is scheduled to operate flights on Dhaka-Delhi and Dhaka-Kolkata routes, US-Bangla Airlines on Dhaka-Chennai and Novo Air on Dhaka-Kolkata route, the report said.

The five Indian airlines are expected to operate flights on Dhaka-Delhi, Dhaka-Kolkata, Dhaka-Chennai and Dhaka-Mumbai routes.

The decision to resume flights to India was made at an inter-ministerial meeting at the civil aviation and tourism ministry on Friday, the report said.

The resumption of air communications will bring relief to many Bangladeshis who are waiting to travel to the neighbouring country for treatment, it said.

According to a report in The Dhaka Tribune, from January 2018 to March 2019, at least 2,876,000 Bangladeshis visited India, and on average 10 per cent of them went for medical treatment.

Initially, around 5,000 passengers from both the countries would be able to fly each week, the report quoted Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman as saying.

There is no transit facility for the passengers to fly to a third country, he said, adding that the passengers would have to undergo COVID-19 testing before flying.

On October 9, the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh announced resumption of online visa application services for Bangladeshi citizens.

For now, visas will be provided in nine categories, including medical, business, employment, journalists and diplomats.

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