Although Biman Bangladesh Airlines has announced a reduction in airfares on five international routes, several Biman sales centres in Dhaka have confirmed that all the air tickets on these routes till March this year have already been sold out.
On January 4, the national flag carrier declared that airfare for Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Dubai and Abu Dhabi bound passengers has been reduced on the occasion of its golden jubilee celebration.
Expatriate workers have suffered huge financial losses as airfare has soared several times to various Middle East destinations. Assessing their plights, the government looked for ways to reduce the airfare.
In a high-level move by the government, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism directed the state-owned Biman to take steps to reduce fares.
In that regard, Biman has made the declaration of reducing fare from January 16 but before the announcement, all the tickets for January and February have already been sold out.
Consequently, those who want to go to the Middle East at this time will not get any benefit from the reduced airfares.
Mansur Ahmed Kalam, president of the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB), said, “We have seen this announcement in the news but the reality is that by February, all tickets of Biman flights are booked or sold out. In GDS (Global Distribution System), I don’t see any low fares.” Visiting Biman’s head office’s sales centre, and sales centres at Farmgate and Motijheel, officials said there were tickets available for these five destinations in January and February. These tickets have been sold out long ago.
If a passenger cancels a ticket for any reason, only then he would give that ticket to another passenger, he said, adding that Biman is not selling tickets online now.
As a result, passengers have to rely on travel agencies for getting air tickets and if agencies sell low-fare tickets at high prices, passengers will not get any benefit from the air ticket price reduction, he said.
Contacted, Biman’s spokesperson and Deputy General Manager (Public Relations) Tahera Khandaker said, “Biman’s fare reduction notice states that tickets will be available at the new fare subject to vacancies. This will take a few more days to fix. Those who will buy tickets next time will get the reduced fare.”