Backtracking on its earlier decision on lifting restrictions partially from September 15, Saudi Arabia now says that it will not allow international flights until December.
Consequently, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which was set to resume flights to Saudi Arabia from September 21, has also backed out of its earlier decision.
Md Mokabbir Hossain, managing director of the national carrier, said, "Biman was prepared to resume flights from September 21, and accordingly it sought permission from the Saudi authorities, but permission was denied.
"Later, we have come to know that Saudi Arabia will not allow international flights to operate due to a deterioration in the Covid-19 situation."
However, chartered flights will be allowed, said Md Mokabbir Hossain.
Earlier on September 13, Riyadh announced a partial lifting of restrictions on international flights from September 15 to allow citizens and residents of "exceptional categories" to travel the country.
The new development will cause massive sufferings for wage earners who got stranded in Bangladesh during the Covid-19 pandemic, said industry insiders.
Around 1 lakh wage earners got stranded in Bangladesh, of which 80% work in Saudi Arabia, according to the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies.
Currently, Biman is operating regular flights to three international destinations – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and London.