All tickets on six domestic routes sold out till May 16
Local airlines of the country have called on the government to increase the number of flights on domestic routes in order for them to meet the massive demand for tickets ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
All tickets on six domestic routes till May 16 were sold out within two or three days of the announcement of a resumption of domestic flights, according to representatives of the airlines.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) suspended domestic flights alongside other restrictions imposed by the government to curb the Covid-19 pandemic on April 5. Flights on all domestic routes, except to Cox’s Bazar, were later resumed on April 21.
When contacted, CAAB member (Flight Standard & Regulations) Group Captain Chowdhury M Zia Ul Kabir said: “We are considering the situation. We will notify our decision on whether to increase the number of flights later.”
Currently, the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines operates 3-4 daily flights to Chittagong, 2-4 each to Jessore, Sylhet and Saidpur, and one to Barisal. Biman flights to Rajshahi have temporarily been stopped, likely due to a shortage of passengers.
Biman spokesperson Tahera Khondoker told Dhaka Tribune the airline planned to increase the number of flights after May 11.
US-Bangla Airlines currently operates an average of 11 flights across six domestic routes each day, including three flights to Chittagong, two each to Sylhet, Saidpur and Jessore, and one each to Barisal and Rajshahi.
NovoAir currently operates three daily flights to Chittagong, two each to Jessore, Sylhet and Saidpur, and one each to Barisal and Rajshahi.
Accoring to NovoAir sources, the airline planned to increase the number of flights on all routes from Thursday, May 6. After the increase, a total of five flights to Chittagong will be operated daily, three each to Jessore, Sylhet and Saidpur, and two each to Barisal and Rajshahi.
The minimum one-way fare from Dhaka to Sylhet, Chittagong, Barisal, Rajshahi or Saidpur is Tk3,200 and the maximum is Tk7,400.
‘More flights to tourist spots, Cox’s Bazar’
The domestic airlines have also requested permission from CAAB to operate flights to tourist spots and Cox’s Bazar ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
“We are ready to operate domestic flights to Cox’s Bazar. We need permission from the authorities quickly, as Eid is just around the corner,” US-Bangla General Manager (Public Relations) Kamrul Islam said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by spokespersons for Biman and other airlines.
Tahera Khondoker said: “With Eid in mind, we expect that the number of passengers to various destinations will increase. We are always ready to start the flights.”
Industry insiders said more passengers were choosing air travel over other means of travel, as they felt it was easier to maintain social distancing on aircraft than on other vehicles.