The flight is expected to benefit 500,000 people of Sylhet-origin living in the UK
After eight long years, a direct flight operation of national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines from Sylhet to London is expected to resume in April 2020.
When the direct flight resumes, it is expected to benefit around 500,000 people from Sylhet, Bangladesh, who are currently living in the UK.
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali recently confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune, during an event at the Sylhet Circuit House.
Biman already operates a direct flight from London to Sylhet, but the direct flight from Sylhet to London was suspended on December 15, 2011.
Biman had discontinued the direct flight at the time claiming bad weather, caused by fog, at Osmani International Airport in Sylhet.
Later, the Biman authorities stated they would resume the direct flight from Sylhet to London on February 1, 2012, but they never followed through on that commitment.
The Biman authorities has not given any specific reason as to why it has taken so long to resume the direct flight operations from Sylhet to London.
Some officials said the airport did not have proper runway or a refuelling facility.
The refuelling facilities at the airport, which was upgraded to international operations in 1998, was later inaugurated in March 2016.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, the state minister for civil aviation and tourism, who initiated the project, said: “Around 80-90% of people travelling on this route (Sylhet to London) are from Sylhet. The renovation work at Osmani International Airport has already started. The direct flight of Biman from Sylhet to London will resume operation in April next year.”
Welcoming this decision, Abdul Jabbar Jalil, president of the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB)’s Sylhet region unit, said: “We want direct flights from Sylhet to not only London, but to all other destinations in the world. We want the full cooperation, and support from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism in this regard.”
Travellers on the Sylhet-London route have been facing difficulties since Biman’s direct flight from Sylhet to London was suspended, they have to take a connecting flight from Sylhet to Dhaka, and then board another aircraft to go to the UK.
KM Abu Taher Chowdhury, secretary of advocacy group Voice for Justice UK, called Biman’s decision to suspend direct flight operation from Sylhet to London “outrageous.”
Meanwhile, sources said, due to the renovation work at the Sylhet airport, Biman’s Sylhet-Dubai direct flight was also suspended on October 25 – only one and a half years after it started operation.
This flight operation was suspended because it was hampering the construction of the runway extension at the airport, the sources added.
Dissatisfied by this move, ATAB leader Abdul Jabbar Jalil said: “In this situation, we are not sure if the direct flight from Sylhet to London will be resumed in 2020.”