Why Dhaka-Saudi flights are so expensive?

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Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the average cost of a plane ticket from Bangladesh to the Middle East was between Tk 40,000 and Tk 45,000 in November 2021, which has now been more than quadrupled to over a lakh which is illogical and unexpected. High ticket prices are causing difficulties for migrant workers, and thousands of Bangladeshi employees have been unable to return to their jobs in various Middle Eastern nations. This price rise is the result of a syndicate that was reported by United News of Bangladesh (UNB).

The high airfares as migrants faced the prospect of being priced out of labor abroad which can affect hugely on the remittance in Bangladesh. According to the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB), the airfare for the Dhaka-Dubai or Dhaka-Abu Dhabi route is currently Tk 87,000, up from Tk 40,000 in December 2021. Flights from Dhaka to Riyadh, Jeddah, and Madina used to cost between Tk 42,000 and Tk 45,000 where they are now worth between Tk 75,000 and Tk 80,000. Moreover, it costs Tk 1.10 lakh to Tk 1.20 lakh to go to Bahrain by Gulf Air. The hefty price is putting a lot of strain on underprivileged migrant employees. 

Due to COVID-19 limitations, Biman Bangladesh Airlines is currently only flying four flights per week to various destinations in Saudi Arabia, down from seven before. Because of the scarcity of seats and the increased demand for traveling to Middle Eastern countries, the cost of flight tickets has risen. A key executive from Biman Bangladesh Airlines claimed this.

The airlines can service passengers equitably. Every day, around 5,000 frequent passengers require tickets to travel to the Middle East. The Middle East is home to up to 7.5 million of Bangladesh’s 10 million abroad migrants. However, there are 3,500 tickets available across all carriers. Every day, the remaining 1,500 people face a crisis. It is ‘immoral’ to take the hard-earned money of employees by causing a catastrophe. Domestic and international airlines are battling to raise fares. As a result, expatriates, laborers, Umrah travelers, recruiting agencies, travel agencies, and tour operators are all losing a lot of money. 

There are accusations that a syndicate is to blame for this unpleasant phenomenon, and nothing is being done to put a stop to their despicable actions. There are indications to believe that the syndicate, in collusion with powerful figures, took advantage of the airline seat shortage about rising demand. “Airlines are imposing additional prices on expatriates at will.  It does not appear that any agency is keeping an eye on the issue.” said a former head of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA).

The workforce sector accounts for 12% of the country’s GDP. So the migrant workers are an asset of Bangladesh. The majority of them belong from low-income families. They go overseas, squandering their funds, selling possessions, and engaging in a variety of other activities. This expensive aircraft cost has become a hardship for them. Besides, the syndicate has added a challenge for them. It has become difficult to manage the greater money in their desire to provide for their family.