Saudia airlines continued reissuing tickets based on the visa expiry dates of stranded Bangladeshi migrants, Monday.
The airline said it would serve the returnees whose visas were going to expire soon and would reissue their return tickets.
Mohiuddin Ashik, a returnee, told The Business Standard, "I went to the Saudia office at 8am today (Monday). The authorities gave me a form. I filled it out and submitted it."
"The airline authorities began providing the form from Sunday afternoon following demonstrations by returnees at Sonargaon hotel," he said.
Ashik described this as a good step but said there was confusion over whether the airline would properly distribute tickets according to urgency.
Hundreds of returnees gathered outside Saudia's office at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka Hotel Monday.
Security workers announced information about tickets via loudspeakers, and distributed forms. They asked returnees to put 20 names, their visa durations and mobile numbers on a form.
They said after checking the forms, those whose visas were going to expire soon would be called first for ticket reissuance.
The returnees acted accordingly, and put their names, visa expiry dates and mobile numbers on the forms.
Meanwhile, the civil aviation and tourism ministry in a press release Monday said it hoped uncertainty over flights for stranded Saudi returnees was mostly removed after increasing the number of seats on Saudia and Biman Bangladesh Airlines flights.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) decided Sunday to ease the restriction over transporting a certain number of passengers on selected flights to mitigate the suffering of Saudi Arabia-bound migrants.
It said flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudia scheduled to take off from Dhaka to different destinations in Saudi Arabia would be under the purview of this decision, adding that the move would remain effective until October 24.
Despite having more capacity, wide-body aircraft were earlier restricted to carrying 260 passengers while the number was 140 for narrow-body airplanes because of the pandemic.
Now on all Saudi Arabia-bound flights, passengers can occupy all seats, except one on business class and those in the last rows in economy class.
The ministry's press release said Biman was sequentially reserving seats for passengers with old tickets without any charge.
It said Biman had requested people, except passengers, not to crowd the airline's office.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, air travel was stopped across the globe to curb the spread of the virus. Later, Bangladesh – as well as other countries – restored regular flight activities on a limited scale while maintaining hygiene rules.
Saudi returnees have been demonstrating in front of Sonargaon hotel since September 16 to have their visas extended and return tickets reissued.
Over one lakh Bangladeshi migrants who came home due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been stranded in the country for a few months now. According to the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies, around 80% of them are employed in Saudi Arabia.