The ambiguity and complications in the Abu Dhabi immigration authority's policy was the main reason behind the denial of 112 Bangladeshi migrants' entry to the city last week, according to the report of a probe committee headed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).
The committee gave some recommendations, including resending the returnees using government funds.
CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said a worker previously would need an entry permit issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
But the requirement was relaxed on August 10, he said at a press conference on Wednesday at the CAAB headquarters.
"The policy was updated on August 13 by the UAE authorities. They said workers whose visas had expired would need ICA approval, and those with valid visas would need to update their status online by going to a web link (uaeentry.ica.gov.ae)provided by the ICA authority.
"But the decision to update the entry policy more than once was not circulated widely. Even the airlines and the embassy were not well-informed about this, which raised confusion," Mafidur explained.
That is why many workers could not follow the guidelines, did not carry their ICA permit, and were denied entry by the Abu Dhabi immigration, he said.
"There was ambiguity in the whole process of updating the entry policy. The same problem was faced not only by Bangladeshi workers but also those from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and other countries," he added.
Among the 112 returnees, 68 were passengers of Biman Bangladesh Airlines on August 14, and 44 of Air Arabia on August 16.
They returned to Bangladesh after being denied entry.
After the incident, around 868 Abu Dhabi-bound Bangladeshis at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport were not given their boarding passes and were not allowed to fly.
Also, Biman decided to cancel flights from Dhaka to Abu Dhabi till August 31.
Biman on its website said in a notice that Bangladeshi passengers with UAE employment visas are not being accepted by the Abu Dhabi immigration authorities at present, and that is why it cannot carry the passengers.
For the same reason, Biman will operate two flights a week instead of six until August 31 for passengers wishing to return to Bangladesh from Abu Dhabi, the notice said, adding that flights to Dubai and to Sharjah are operating.
On the other hand, Air Arabia is continuing to operate flights from Dhaka to Abu Dhabi.
"Now, passengers are not facing the problem at Abu Dhabi immigration as they are following the guidelines of the ICA," said Dilara Ahmed, manager of Air Arabia at Bangladesh Airport who was also a member of the probe committee.
The five-member probe committee was formed on August 17 following the decision made at an inter-ministerial meeting.
The report was sent to the civil aviation and tourism ministry on Wednesday.
The summary of the report was presented by the CAAB chairman at the press conference.
He said the Abu Dhabi immigration authority was mainly responsible for the problem, but both Biman and Air Arabia Airlines had faults as well.
Group Captain Imranur Rahman, director (flight standard and regulations) of CAAB and also the chairman of the probe committee, were present at the press conference, among others.