Following a protest by migrant workers amid a shortage of tickets to Saudi Arabia, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) today said it will permit Saudi Airlines to operate more flights so that Bangladeshi expatriates can return to their workplaces in the Gulf country.
CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman made the announcement at a programme in the capital's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
"We will give them permission to operate as many flights as they [Saudi Airlines] want," he said, adding, "Two weeks ago, Saudi Airlines applied to us to resume flight operations from Dhaka and we gave permission on the condition that the Saudi authority will give permission to Biman Bangladesh Airlines to operate regular flights on the Dhaka-Riyadh route."
The CAAB chief said they came to know that the Saudi authority had given Biman permission to operate chartered flights, but not commercial ones.
"We're trying so that Biman can operate commercial flights on the route."
Regarding the hike in air fare, Mafidur Rahman said, "Some of our local travel agencies are blocking tickets and have increased fares. We will try to find them through law enforcement agencies. "
Earlier today, several thousand migrant workers today staged a protest in front of Saudi Airlines office in the city's Sonargaon area due to a shortage of tickets to Saudi Arabia.
Traffic movement on the busy Sonargaon intersection in the capital came to a halt for around an hour in the morning during the agitation, witnesses said.
Admitting shortage of seats, a top commercial officer of Saudi Airlines, Dhaka office, said at least 30,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers are waiting to return to their work places in Saudi Arabia.
"We applied for operating seven weekly flights from Dhaka. But CAAB had given us permission to operate only two flights," the official said requesting anonymity.