Expats fail to buy tickets to ME destinations

Bangladeshi expatriates, willing to return to Middle East countries,  could not purchase tickets to their desired destinations at the Biman Bangladesh Airlines regional headquarters, in Chattogram, Sylhet, and Dhaka. 

After hours of waiting, when they finally reached the counter they had to return empty handed or with information on other agencies that had tickets. 

In the meantime, due to a skyrocketing demand for Middle East air tickets, travel agency syndicates are taking the opportunity resulting in a ticket that costs Tk 36,000 being sold from Tk 80,000 to Tk 1 lakh or more.

It is learned that many of those people whose visas have expired are buying tickets at double or triple the price to reach their destinations, and taking this opportunity, a syndicate is increasing the ticket price with the help of some corrupt Biman marketing officials.

According to the authorities of various airlines, the number of flights is now much lower than usual. But ticket demand is higher. In this situation, expatriates are in extreme distress.

Expatriates alleged that even tickets are not available at the airline offices, but if they pay a large sum of money to brokers, tickets are arranged for them.

Expatriates have been asked to join their workstations by their authorities concerned following the improved corona situation while some fear their visas will expire shortly. As a result, they are trying to get tickets to return to their respective destinations.

According to our Chattogram Correspondent, most of the passengers crowding for tickets in Chattogram are from the UAE. The country recently has relaxed the conditions of online registration for travel in the coronavirus epidemic for foreigners. Last week, entry was opened for Corona negative passengers without online registration and entry permit. But the Bangladeshi passengers are not able to take the advantage of the situation as flight movement with the UAE is not normal.

Apart from other airlines, Biman Bangladesh Airlines also operates international flights from Dhaka to 17 destinations in the Middle East. 

Biman Bangladesh Airlines is currently operating six flights per week on Dhaka-Abu Dhabi-Dhaka route, and six flights on Dhaka-Dubai-Dhaka route.  In these flights of Bangladesh Biman, only insufficient number of passengers are getting tickets. In such a situation, Middle Eastern expatriates are begging for tickets from the national flag carrier Biman.

However, on Sunday, the concerned ministry informed that Biman will reissue tickets to all the passengers who had brought return tickets on Dhaka-Dubai and Dhaka-Abu Dhabi routes but could not travel due to Covid-19 pandemic.

No extra charge will be imposed on these passengers in getting return tickets. Once the reissuance of the return tickets is completed, the sale of new tickets will begin.

Besides, when the Abu Dhabi authorities approve the September 2020 schedule for the Abu Dhabi route, the sale of Biman tickets for September will resume.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Biman, Md Mokabbir Hossain said, "At present we are struggling to provide tickets to 2000 expatriates who had purchased Biman's return tickets. But these passengers could not go as flights were canceled due to coronavirus. Since previous passengers are getting priority, new passengers are not getting tickets. That's why the crisis for tickets has started".

On condition not to be named, a Biman official told this correspondent that "Situation would not worsen if we could inform passengers about the September flight operation. Due to the restrictions on flight operation by the UAE government, we will not be able to carry passengers at full capacities. However, based on the situation and condition, we will carry all passengers in phases".