Expatriate Bangladeshis returning home from Libya are having a hard time locating their checked bags at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, due to a lack of connecting flights from that country.
According to sources at the airport, many Bangladeshi nationals arriving from Tripoli are yet to get their luggage, despite submitting complaints at the lost and found department.
The magistrate court in the airport has already received a number of complaints regarding the matter.
Executive Magistrate Mohammad Yusuf pointed out that the issue of missing bags is caused by a lack of direct flights from Libya to Bangladesh, and no airlines are currently offering connecting flights in this route.
Arju Mia is one such expatriate from Libya who visited Bangladesh on December 1, 2017. He reached Istanbul on a Libya Wing Airlines flight, and then boarded on an Emirates Airways flight to Dubai.
Arju reached Bangladesh from Dubai using another Emirates Airways flight, but he could not find his luggage- two bags weighing 30kg and 10kg.
He contacted Emirates Airlines several times but failed to get the issue resolved. Arju Mia then filed a complaint at the airport’s magistrate court.
Arju said: “I could not locate my baggage after arriving at the Shahjalal Airport, so I contacted Emirates. They took my phone number and told me that the airlines will contact me later.
“After a few days, I contacted the airlines again. They agreed to bring me one of my bags weighing 30kg without any extra charges. Three months have passed since then, but I did not receive my luggage.”
He added: “After I visited the Emirates Airlines office a couple of times, they told me that my luggage has been sent back to Libya, and the airlines cannot help me get it back. Apart from not getting my bags back, I had to spend a lot of money to visit the airlines office repeatedly.”
Responding to a query, Executive Magistrate Mohammad Yusuf said: “Arju Mia made a stopover in Istanbul from Libya, but he did not have a visa for Turkey. So, he could not go through the immigration to collect his luggage from the baggage belt there.”
He said: “Arju also used two separate Emirates Airlines flights from Istanbul to arrive in Bangladesh. Libya Wing Airlines has no internal agreement or code sharing with the Emirates Airlines.
“So, Emirates had absolutely no information regarding Arju’s luggage.”
“Emirates tried to bring Arju’s luggage from Kamal Ataturk Airport, but the airport authorities had already sent the unclaimed bags back to Libya,” the magistrate added.
Requesting anonymity, an official of Dhaka airport said: “Due to the change in Libyan political regime a few years ago, most of the international airlines have stopped their operations in that country.
“Expatriate Bangladeshis from Libya pass through Istanbul and make a stopover in one of the cities like Doha, Qatar, Dubai and Bahrain. People, who visit Bangladesh from Libya, must use two to three different flights, and none of these flights are connected.”
The official added: “As the passengers do not have visas for the countries they visit on their way back to Bangladesh, they cannot pass through the immigration to collect their luggage from the belt.
“So, the bags just get left at the airport in Istanbul.”
Commenting on the issue, Magistrate Yusuf said: “Many passengers complain to us regarding their missing bags. As, they use non-connected flights from different airlines, nothing can be done about the issue.
“Airlines operating in Bangladesh have no internal arrangement with airlines currently operating in Libya. Until the situation improves, it is best not to bring any other luggage in flights, others than bags that can be carried by the passengers.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com