Evacuation issue requires approval at the highest level as it is a sensitive matter, top official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism says
Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the national flag carrier, will operate evacuation flights from Afghanistan if the safety and security of the aircraft and crew can be ensured, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mahbub Ali said on Monday.
Another top official of the same ministry, however, said evacuation flights would require approval at the highest level as the issue is very sensitive.
Some flight chartering companies have proposed that Biman operate flights to evacuate thousands of people, including Afghans, from the troubled South Asian country.
“The negotiations regarding the use of Biman flights to evacuate people from Afghanistan have been going on for a few days. Nothing has been yet finalized,” State Minister Ali told Dhaka Tribune.
“There are some issues with respect to safety and security that need to be resolved. Biman is currently looking into those issues,” he said.
When asked if the national flag carrier would operate flights from Afghanistan, Ali said: “Biman will provide the service if the US wants. However, the safety and security of the aircraft and crew will have to be ensured.”
When contacted, Zanendra Nath Sarker, additional secretary of Biman and CA wing of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, told this correspondent: “It is a commercial aspect to be looked after by Biman. We will deal with the policy matters.”
In response to a question, he said: “Biman has not yet come to the ministry for any decision regarding this [operation of flights to and from Afghanistan].
“Of course, any operation to and from Afghanistan by the national flag carrier is a policy issue. It is a very sensitive issue,” said a top official of the ministry.
“It requires the approval at the highest level,” he added.
No comment from US embassy in Dhaka
When contacted by Dhaka Tribune, the US embassy in Bangladesh declined to make any comment in relation to the reported proposal from the US for Biman to operate evacuation flights.
It has been learnt from two different sources that there was no official proposal from the US government on evacuation flights.