National flag carrier Bangladesh Biman has reduced airfares to four Middle Eastern routes – Dhaka-Jeddah, Dhaka-Riyad, Dhaka-Dubai and Dhaka-Abu Dhabi – as the air trips doubled and tripled in recent months adding pressure on Bangladeshi expatriates returning to their workplaces.
The reduced rates will be effective from 16 January marking the golden jubilee of Biman, read a press release of the national flag carrier on Tuesday.
Including tax, the maximum fare for each one-way economy ticket on Dhaka-Jeddah route has been reduced to Tk64,620 from Tk72,455. Similarly, Dhaka-Riyadh and Dhaka-Dammam will cost Tk63,123 while the current rate is Tk70,758. Dhaka-Dubai economy ticket has been reduced to Tk62,784 from Tk75,508, while Dhaka-Abu Dhabi to Tk58,542 from Tk67,025.
Airfares to Middle Eastern routes started to edge up at the end of 2020 as air travel resumed after months of Covid-led suspension.
The fares doubled and tripled in some cases two months ago while the air tickets to other south Asian countries remained unchanged, according to travel agents.
The travel agencies and manpower recruiters had been seeking to reduce the prices. With the demand, the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (Atab) held a press conference and submitted a letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism.
At a press conference on 7 December last year, Atab said that a ticket for Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-bound flight would cost only Tk30,000 in pre-pandemic times, but now it had doubled.
Airlines said that fewer flights amid travel restrictions, a poor number of return-ticket holders and thin movement of tourists had led to their operational cost hikes ultimately resulting in costlier air travels.
"For Bangladeshi expatriates, it is impossible to return to their workplaces after paying the additional costs," said Atab.
Mahmudul Haque Pearu, proprietor of travel agency Haque International, told The Business Standard general passengers would hardly be benefited by Biman's fare reductions since most of the tickets end up at black market.
"We the travel agents are not getting tickets. A syndicate is controlling the market overcharging the passengers," he commented.