The London-Sylhet direct flights were suspended since June 21 due to the outbreak of coronavirus
Direct flights from London to Sylhet, which were closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, have been resumed.
The BG-202 flight landed at Sylhet MAG Osmani International Airport at 10:25am on Monday.
Biman Manager (Sylhet district) Shahnewaz Majumder confirmed the matter, saying there were 116 passengers on board. Of them, 65 were from Sylhet and 51 from Dhaka.
Passengers who have brought a certificate, to prove they tested negative for coronavirus, will leave for their respective destinations. However, those who do not have a certificate will be taken to an isolation center, he added.
The official also said apart from the representatives of Biman and civil aviation, representatives of the Armed Forces Division were also present at the airport.
The plane left for Dhaka after staying for an hour at the airport. Moreover, 34 additional passengers went to Dhaka from Sylhet on the same plane, he added.
Sylhet Deputy Commissioner M Kazi Emdadul Islam told this correspondent that Khadim BRDTI has been prepared as a quarantine center in Sylhet. However, expatriates who are not interested to stay at the quarantine centre, must stay at a hotel at their own expense.
In response to another question, he said they visited the Fortune Garden on Sunday in the wake of a letter from the Armed Forces Division.
Abdul Jabbar Jalil, chairman of the Atab Democratic Unity Front in Sylhet region, said a full verbal agreement was reached in consultation with the Hotel Fortune Garden authorities for the quarantine of expatriates.
Sufi Sohel Ahmed, treasurer of the United Kingdom (UK) expatriates’ Greater Sylhet Development and Welfare Council (GSC) in UK's South East region, said expatriates were happy for the resumption of direct flights from London to Sylhet.
The expatriates were aggrieved over the decision of cancelling flights. Now, they will be able to travel to their homeland without any hindrance, he added.
Suspended since June 21
According to Biman sources, the London-Sylhet direct flights were suspended since June 21 due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Later, on July 25, Biman Bangladesh Airlines informed that those who come to Sylhet from London have to land in Dhaka first, claim their luggage there and get a new boarding pass to travel to Sylhet. Biman announced the decision citing the situation of coronavirus and the absence of an isolation center in Sylhet.
As a result, there was aggression among the Sylhet expatriates in UK and caused a storm of criticism on social media. Various organizations, including the GSC, staged protests demanding the cancellation of Biman's decision and resumption of London-Sylhet flight.
There was a storm of protest in Sylhet too. Expatriates from the UK and various organizations in Sylhet asked Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen to resume the London-Sylhet flight.
On July 30, an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by AK Abdul Momen discussed in detail and decided to resume the flights. This decision brought relief among the Sylhet expatriates in UK.
On August 4, a letter signed by Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Private Aviation and Tourism Roksinda Farhana asked to make ancillary preparations for the landing of Bangladesh Biman flight in Sylhet.
Besides, Osmani Airport has been requested to take all necessary measures as per the government decision to prevent Covid-19 infection.