Bangladesh’s first domestic flights after lockdown struggle to get passengers

A small number of passengers used the first flights on domestic routes on Monday after Bangladesh reopened its skies following a two-month coronavirus ban.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh allowed the planes to carry passengers at up to 75 percent of their capacity, but the airlines had to operate far below that limit as passengers were still wary of flying.

The airlines followed the health protocol issued by the CAAB, said AHM Towhid Ul Ahsan, director of Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.

Wing Commander Sarwar E Jahan, manager of Shah Amanat Airport in Chattogram, reiterated the same.

On Sunday, the government lifted the lockdown it imposed on Mar 26 to curb the escalating number of coronavirus cases.

CAAB decided to resume the domestic flights on Jun 1, while continuing the ban on international passenger flights until Jun 15.

It also gave a directive to the airlines to follow hygiene rules and ensure that all passengers maintain social distance.

Physical distance should be maintained between passengers while seated and they should be given masks and gloves to wear, it said. The aircraft must be ‘sanitised’ before taking off.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines had six scheduled flights to Chattogram, Sylhet and Syedpur from Dhaka on Monday, Tahera Khandaker, spokesperson for Biman, told bdnews24.com.

It had to cancel four flights to and from Chattogram and Sylhet due to the small number of passengers. Biman operated only two flights to and from the northern destination of Syedpur.