State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism M Mahbub Ali on Friday urged all intending passengers to strictly follow health regulations and social distancing while travelling by air as the local airlines are set to resume domestic flights from June 1, reports BSS.
“I urge all passengers to enjoy your air travel following all health regulations as well as maintaining social distancing,” he said in a video message.
The junior minister said the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines and other two private carriers – US-Bangla Airlines and Novoair –will operate flights on Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Syedpur routes from June 1 following health guidelines.
On Thursday, the government decided to resume domestic flight operations after more than two months on a limited scale from June 1 and extend the ongoing ban on international routes till June 15 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 told BSS yesterday.
After observing the situation of domestic flights resumption, the senior secretary said, they would consider reopening all the seven domestic destinations, including Jessore and Rajshahi, after June 15.
Meanwhile, the local airlines have taken preparation to resume domestic flight operation following the CAAB prescribed health guideline including disinfecting the aircraft before boarding passenger every time.
The national flag carrier Biman and Novoair each has a plan to operate seven flights daily while US-Bangla is preparing for 10 daily flights on three routes, airlines official sources said.
“We will operate morning and evening flights to Chittagong and Sylhet and three flights to Syedpur daily from June 1 through our Dash aircraft,” Biman’s Deputy General Manager Tahera Khandoker told BSS.
US-Bangla Airlines General Manager Kamrul Islam said their airline has a plan to operate six daily flights to port city Chattogram while three to Syedpur and one to Sylhet.
Novoair head of sales and marketing Mesbahul Islam said they would operate three flights to each Chittagong and Syedpur and one light to Sylhet daily.
CAAB chairman Air Vice-Marshall M Mafidur Rahman said all the airlines must follow the health guidelines, including the social distancing instructions, issued by his office, to operate the domestic flights.
Last week, the CAAB prepared a guideline with directions 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 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.
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 and in front of the boarding gates maintaining social distancing.
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 Chittagong and Sylhet and all domestic airports to carry out disinfecting activities on a regular basis.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the first ban on some international flights was imposed on March 16 and on all domestic routes on March 25.
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 here.
Bangladesh government also facilitated chartered flights to bring back its nationals from a number of countries, including India, the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.