(MENAFN- Bangladesh Monitor)
Dhaka : After a decade, another carrier, besides Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines, has been permitted to carry Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims to and from the kingdom.
Saudi Arabian budget carrier Flynas received the go-ahead to transport Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims from the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh in a letter on May 6.
However, experts are skeptical whether the new move would end the duopoly of Biman and Saudia which they have been enjoying for a decade now in carrying hajj pilgrims.
Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB), a platform of over 1,500 hajj agencies, had long been demanding that more airlines be allowed as the current system was costing the pilgrims higher airfares.
Since then, the two airlines have been enjoying the duopoly, charging pilgrims high airfares, said M Shahadat Hossain Taslim, President of HAAB.
However, by allowing a budget carrier like Flynas which does not have a 'base' in Bangladesh does not necessarily solve the problem, expressed aviation experts of the country.
It may be mentioned here, earlier, Flynas did carry hajj pilgrims to and from Bangladesh. However, due to poor ground handling and passenger services, pilgrims' sufferings knew no bounds.
The low-cost airline also charged the same amount of airfare as the other two legacy carriers Biman and Saudia.
Eventually, due to the aforementioned reasons, the airline received poor reception from pilgrims. Hence, Flynas stopped operating hajj flights, leaving the market to Biman and Saudia.
There is hardly any reason to believe the situation will be any different this time, according to aviation stakeholders.
Experts are worried that history might repeat itself. The low-cost airline Flynas, without a base in Bangladesh, might again fail to ensure proper passenger services to the pilgrims.
Instead, the government should allow a legacy carrier which has a base in Bangladesh and has been operating regular flights to and from the country, to actually make the hajj flight segment more competitive and end the duopoly of Biman and Saudia, urged experts.
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