Bangladesh-India restores air connectivity after seven months


Dhaka, Oct 28: The air connectivity between the neighboring Bangladesh and India was restored today under “air bubble” arrangement after more than seven months of flight suspension for containment of COVID-19 pandemic.

The first resumption flight between the two countries began as a US-Bangla airlines regular commercial flight from Dhaka to Kolkata took off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) at 9:45 this morning.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami, Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman and US-Bangla Airlines CEO Capt Shikdar Meshba Uddin Ahmed were present at the airport to see off the Kolkata bound passengers, the airlines spokesperson told BSS.

The US-Bangladesh airlines also operated Dhaka-Chennai-Dhaka flight at 10:30 am today while the national flag carrier Biman will resume its India operation through its New Delhi flight from tomorrow.

Apart from Delhi route, Biman Bangladesh Airlines will resume its flight to Kolkata and Chennai from November 1 and 15 respectively, a press release of the airlines said earlier.

The US-Bangla Airlines will operate flight to Kolkata for six days a week except Monday and to Chennai for four days a week on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, airlines spokesperson said.

The Novoair, another local carrier, has taken preparation to reopen its Kolkata flight but the resumption date is yet to be decided, said the airlines official.

Under the air bubble mechanism, air connectivity was restored between only Bangladesh and India where no third country will be involved that means the airlines will not take any transit passengers.

India has already introduced such air bubble with numbers of countries like France, Germany, the UAE and Maldives whereas this is first in its kind for Bangladesh.

As per the air-bubble arrangement, three Bangladeshi airlines – Biman Bangladesh Airlines, US-Bangla Airlines, and Novo Air – will initially operate 28 flights a week while five Indian carriers – Air India, Vistara, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir – will run the same number of flights in a week.

According to the CAAB, five Indian airlines will operate flights on Delhi-Dhaka-Delhi, Kolkata-Dhaka-Kolkata, Chennai-Dhaka-Chennai and Mumbai-Dhaka-Mumbai routes.

On October 9, the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh announced resumption of online visa application services for Bangladeshi citizens.

For now, visas will be provided in nine categories including medical, business, employment, journalists, diplomatic, personal, officials, UN officials, and UN diplomats, said the Bangladesh foreign ministry.