'We have made the decision considering the overall situation'
The Indian government has decided to suspend a vast majority of visas for the country in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
A press release was issued in this regard by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka on Thursday.
"All valid visas issued by the High Commission of India or the Assistant High Commissions of India in Bangladesh on or before March 12, 2020, will remain suspended from 6pm, March 13, 2020, till April 15, 2020. No new visa shall be issued from March 13, 2020," said the release.
"All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organizations, employment, project visas, stand till April 15, 2020," the release added.
Thus the national flag carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, along with the privately operated US-Bangla Airlines, Regent Airways and Novoair have been forced to cancel all their flights to India amid the global outbreak of coronavirus.
Top officials of the four airlines confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.
Expressing concern, Md Mokabbir Hossain, managing director of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said Biman would suspend its flights from today as the Indian authorities had decided not to allow any international flights to enter the country from 6pm yeson Thursdayterday.
The airline operates flights on the Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Delhi routes.
Following the decision by the state carrier, Novoair, which operates flights between Dhaka and Kolkata, will also stop flying to Kolkata from Friday.
Novoair Senior Manager (marketing, sales) AKM Mahfuzul Alam said: "We have made the decision considering the overall situation."
However, US-Bangla Airlines will suspend all its flights to the neighbouring country from March 17.
"We will send our flights to Chennai and Kolkata on March 15 and 16 respectively for facilitating the return of our passengers to Bangladesh," said Kamrul Islam, general manager (media) of US-Bangla Airlines.
Imran Asif, CEO of Regent Airways, said: "Flights to India will be suspended from March 16."
The press release from the Indian High Commission also stated that anyone with a "compelling reason" to travel to the country could contact the nearest Indian High Commission office, adding, "International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with robust screening facilities."
When contacted, the Chairman of the Bangladesh Land Port Authority, Tapan Kumar Chakravorty, said: "In line with directives from the Indian authorities, no one can enter the country by using our land ports. However, travellers will be able to enter Bangladesh from India.
"Also, the entry and exit of goods will remain normal."