Bangladesh and India have set another example of good bilateral relations for the world during the Covid-19 pandemic by restoring commercial flights under the “Air Bubble” mechanism after seven months of the international flight suspension aimed to curb the spread of the fatal disease.
When the whole world is grappling to fight off the deadly virus by closing the border, the two next-door neighbours in South Asia officially resumed the flights on Wednesday, which the international community considers a major development to boost bilateral ties amid the pandemic.On the first day of the flight resumption between the two countries, two regular commercial flights of US-Bangla Airlines from Dhaka to Kolkata and Dhaka to Chennai took off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) at 9:45am and 10:30am respectively.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami attended the formal re-launching of air connectivity as the chief guest while Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Air Vice-Marshal M Mafidur Rahman as special guest.
Capt Sikder Meabahuddin Ahmed, chief executive officer of US-Bangla Airlines, chaired the inaugural ceremony.
Bangladesh is one of the 14 countries in the world with whom India established air connectivity under the ‘Air Bubble’ arrangements. India has already started flights with countries like France, Germany, UAE and the Maldives.
Commenting on the ‘Air Bubble’ mechanism between Bangladesh and India, diplomatic circle in Dhaka termed this “as an exceptional relation -- a relation tied by blood.”
Inaugurating the bilateral flight resumption at HSIA, the Indian high commissioner hopes to start tourist visas in Bangladesh soon.“From the High Commission we will do all to put our visa services back to the highest possible level,” Doraiswami said, adding that they want to ensure that more friends of Bangladesh who want to travel to India can do that.
“We hope to start the tourist visa services soon,” the Indian envoy reiterated.
Under the ‘Air Bubble’ agreement, 28 flights from each country will fly every week, connecting five Indian cities.
Five Indian airlines — Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara and GoAir and three Bangladeshi airlines — Biman Bangladesh, US Bangla and Novo Air -- will operate flights.
The High Commission of India is now issuing visas for medical, business, employment, entry, journalist, diplomatic, official, UN official and UN diplomatic visas.
Apart from Delhi route, official sources said Biman Bangladesh Airlines will resume its flight to Kolkata and Chennai from November 1 and 15 respectively.
While, the US-Bangla Airlines will operate flight to Kolkata for six days a week except Monday and to Chennai for four days a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The Novoair, another local carrier, has taken preparations to resume its Kolkata flight but the resumption date is yet to be decided, said airlines officials.