Air Fare to Middle East: Migrants priced out
Airfares for flights to different Middle Eastern countries have doubled since last month, adding pressure on migrant workers returning to their workplaces.
In November, airfares for different Middle Eastern countries were between Tk 40,000 and Tk 45,000. At present, the prices are between Tk 70,000 and Tk 90,000, which is totally illogical and unexpected, said Bangladeshi expatriates.
Amid this situation, the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (Atab) yesterday demanded that the government forms a regulatory board immediately to address the issue.
At a press briefing at a city hotel, Atab leaders said thousands of Bangladeshi expatriate workers couldn't return to their workplaces in different Middle Eastern countries on time due to the high airfares.
Monsur Ahmed Kalam, president, Atab, a platform of around 3,500 registered travel agency, said, at present the airfare for the Dhaka-Dubai or Dhaka-Abu Dhabi route is Tk 87,000, which was Tk 40,000 just last month.
He also said airfare for Dhaka-Muscat route is Tk 72,000, which was Tk 35,000 a few months ago.
The airfares for Riyadh, Jeddah and Madina from Dhaka were between Tk 42,000 and 45,000. Now, they are between Tk 75,000 and Tk 80,000, said Atab leaders.
Giving a comparison of airfare between Bangladesh and its neighboring countries for Riyadh, Fakhrul Islam, president of the Recruiting Agency Welfare Organization of Bangladesh, yesterday told The Daily Star that the fare for the Colombo-Riyadh route is Tk 38,000, while for the Nepal-Riyadh route, it is around Tk 45,000.
He also said airfare for Mumbai-Riyadh route is around Tk 32,000.
Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi passenger needs to spend around Tk 80,000 to Tk 85,000 to go to Riyadh, said Fakhrul.
He also said in some cases, the airfare for Dhaka-Riyadh route goes up to Tk 1 lakh and that a passenger needs to pay Tk 87,000 to Tk 93,000 to go to Dubai.
M Tipu Sultan, president of Recruiting Agency Oikkya Parishad, said it costs Tk 64,000 for a 23-hour long flight to the USA.
"Whereas, a five-and-half-hour-long flight to Dubai from Dhaka needs Tk 80,000 to Tk 85,000, which is illogical."
Atab leaders said airfare from Dhaka to London on a 12-hour-long flight is around Tk 52,000, while the airfare on Dhaka-Riyadh route is almost double in some cases.
Ticket prices to Oman and Qatar now cost Tk 80,000 to Tk 1 lakh, up from Tk 25,000 to Tk 30,000 a year ago, said the Atab leaders and recruiting agencies.
Fakhrul said Bangladesh risks losing its labour market in the Middle East due to the high cost of air tickets.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Asadul Islam, a Saudi-bound expatriate, yesterday said he had to borrow more than Tk 1 lakh from his friends just to get a ticket to Saudi Arabia.
At yesterday's briefing, Atab made four recommendations, including operating additional flights to Middle Eastern destinations by Biman and other concerned airlines so that airfare can be brought back to normal rates.
Calling upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to give attention to the soaring airfares, Atab also recommended that the government fix special airfares for expatriate workers.