Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) on Tuesday demanded keeping international flights open during the lockdown.
A number of 20,000 to 25,000 expatriate workers are scheduled to join their jobs this week and most of them would lose jobs if they could not travel, said the organizations.BAIRA and ATAB leaders also said employers would cancel visa permits of the workers if they fail to reach their workplaces.
Following the government instruction, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) on April 11 suspended operation of all international passenger flights to and from Bangladesh from April 14 to April 20.
The government announced a stricter seven-day lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country.
CAAB said humanitarian, relief, medevac, cargo, technical landing (for refueling only) and the flights cleared under special consideration will remain out of purview of this suspension.
BAIRA and ATAB leaders demanded that the manpower sector be kept out of purview of lockdown and declared the sector as an emergency service sector.
BAIRA’s former finance secretary Fakhrul Islam read out a written statement at a press conference on Tuesday in Dhaka on behalf of the organisation while President of ATAB Monsur Ahmed Kalam read out his association’s demands.According to BAIRA, about 20,000 to 25,000 migrant workers have already bought air tickets at high prices and are waiting to go to their workplaces within the next week.
Moreover, thousands of expatriate workers are trying to collect tickets.
“If all international flights are canceled for a week, migrant workers along with recruiting agencies will suffer a huge loss, and the country will be affected as well,” Fakhrul Islam said on behalf of BAIRA.
He said thousands of Qatar and Oman-bound workers have booked hotels for quarantine with huge amount of money which are non-refundable and if the workers cannot reach their respective destinations on time, they will have to suffer a huge loss.
ATAB president said thousands of expatriate visas had expired due to a two-month long ban on international flights during the lockdown last year. “International flights should be operated from Bangladesh following proper health guidelines as there are no restrictions in the recipient countries,” said M Shahadat Hossain Taslim, a member of ATAB.
According to BAIRA’s written statement, Bangladesh will lag behind in the international manpower market if the country stops manpower export while countries like Nepal, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines are sending their workers to different countries amid lockdown.