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Covid-19: Biman suspends Saudi Arabia-bound flights for a week

  • Published at 10:52 am December 21st, 2020
File photo of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines aircraft at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Saudi Arabia on Sunday halted international flights and suspended entry through its land and sea ports for at least a week

Biman Bangladesh Airlines has suspended all its flights bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for a week as the kingdom government imposed ban on all international commercial flights due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The national flag carrier cancelled all its flights towards Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam from Monday, said Tahera Khandaker, deputy general manager (public relations) of Biman, in a press release.

Passengers of the suspended flights will be allotted seats on priority basis subject to its vacancy after flight resumption, she added.

The Bangladesh government has decided to suspend the flight operation of airlines that will carry passengers without Covid-19 negative certificates as part of its initiative to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said that they have asked all airlines to refrain from carrying Covid-19 patients but six patients were found boarding the Biman Bangladesh Airlines from Saudi Arabia, reports UNB.

On June 16, flight operations on international routes from Bangladesh resumed after over two months of suspension.

Also Read- Saudi halts international flights over virus variant

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia halted international flights and suspended entry through its land and sea ports for at least a week, after a new fast-spreading strain of coronavirus appeared in Britain, reports AFP.

The kingdom is "temporarily suspending all international flights -- except in exceptional cases -- for a period of one week, which can be extended by another week," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

"Entry to the kingdom through land and sea ports will also be suspended for a week, which can be extended by another week," SPA added, citing the Ministry of Interior.

The suspension does not apply to international aircraft currently in the kingdom, which will be allowed to leave, SPA said.

The development comes after several European countries banned travel from Britain on Sunday as the UK government warned that a highly infectious new strain of the virus was "out of control."

SPA said passengers who arrived in Saudi Arabia from Europe -- or any country where the new strain was detected -- starting December 8 will be required to self isolate for two weeks, and undergo testing.

Neighbouring Kuwait also announced a ban on Sunday on passenger flights from Britain over the new strain of the virus.

Alarm bells are ringing across Europe -- which last week became the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 -- after it appeared that a more infectious strain of the virus was raging in parts of Britain. 

Last week, Saudi Arabia kicked off a three-phase Covid-19 vaccination program, after the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the kingdom.

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