Bangladesh on Thursday decided to resumes domestic flight operations on a limited scale from June 1 after more than two months of ban on air travel on most of the international and all domestic routes to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have decided to resume the domestic flight operations on a limited scale initially on Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Syedpur routes while the ongoing international flight suspension will be continued till June 15,” Civil Aviation and Tourism secretary M Mohibul Haque said on Thursday, reports BSS.After observing the situation, the senior secretary said, they would consider reopening all the seven domestic destinations, including Jessore and Rajshahi, after June 15.
“We are also considering the withdrawal of ongoing ban on international flight operation after June 15 depending on the situation,” he said, adding that resumption of London flight is under consideration of the government.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) will issue a circular later on Thursday with a guideline of operating domestic flight operation, he said.
The decision was taken following the government’s announcement of allowing public transportation on road, rail, waterways and air on a limited scale starting from May 31 as the ongoing general holidays will not be extended after May 30.
Last week, the CAAB prepared a guideline with instructions to the airlines on how the flights will be operated following all health instructions and social distancing after the withdrawal of the current suspension.
According to the guideline, all airlines have to keep at least 30 to 25 percent seats vacant on each flight to ensure social distancing by keeping at least a gap of a seat between two passengers if they are not from the same family.About the seat planning, it further instructed that the frontal or the last row of seats on each flight must remain vacant for carrying any passenger to be found suspected of contracting coronavirus.
If any passenger is found with Covid-19 symptoms, crew members should immediately contact the destination airport and hand over the suspected patient to the airport health authority after landing.
All staffers of airlines will have to wear masks, gloves and disposable head caps while dealing with passengers at the check-in counters while cabin
crew will wear N95 or equivalent protection facial masks, goggles, disposable rubber gloves and change facial masks every four hours, said the guideline.
Crew members will avoid close contact with passengers and provide only the necessary in-flight services to the passengers and no food and drink will be served in flights with an airtime of less than one and a half hours.
Normal meal can be served to passengers during medium and long-haul flights while all types of baby foods will be allowed to be carried.
Passengers’ body temperature will be measured and they have to stand in queues in front of the check-in counters maintaining social distancing.
On May 14, the government last extended the ongoing ban on flight operation for the sixth consecutive time till May 30 to and from Bahrain, Bhutan, Hong Kong, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, and the UK.
The suspension included all domestic flights while cargo, special, air ambulance, relief carrying flights and emergency landing aircraft remain out of this ban.
Currently, flights are being operated from Bangladesh to only China.
Apart from Bangladesh’s main aviation hub Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital, the CAAB also asked officials of the country’s other two international airports in Chattogram and Sylhet and all domestic airports to carry out disinfecting activities on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, different countries, including the USA, the UK, India, Japan, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Bhutan, Myanmar and different European countries so far operated several special chartered flights amid the flight suspension to repatriate their citizens from Dhaka.
Bangladesh government also facilitated chartered flights to bring back its nationals from a number of countries, including India, the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.