High airfare sends migrant workers to deep trouble

02 October 2022

Reza Mahmud :
Prices of air tickets, especially of Middle Eastern countries, have gone up abnormally in the recent months, sending migrant workers to deep trouble.
High airfare has also pushed up migration cost.
Arif Hossain, a Bangladesh expatriate, has been working at a company in Dammam in Saudi Arabia.  Recently, he returned his village home on vacation in Faridpur.
 "The airfare of Dhaka-Jeddah route was hiked several times in this year, creating huge burden to the migrant workers who have been working in Middle Eastern countries," Arif Hossain told The New Nation yesterday.
He said earlier it cost Tk 35,000 for an air ticket of Middle East, which is now reached Tk 70,000. "Airlines have been charging exorbitant fare and the migrant workers bear brunt of high airfares," he added.
On the other hand, the air ticket costs of Malaysia-Bangladesh flights have also hiked several times.
"Earlier, the fare was Tk 18,000 but it now reached Tk 40,000 which is more than  double," Ahmed Ullah,  a Malaysia bound migrant worker told The New Nation.
Meanwhile, the fresh migrant workers are worried about the rise in migration cost, caused by abnormal hike in air tickets.
Abdul Quddus, who has been enrolled for a job in a Middle East country first time, said, "Everything was normal before confirming the air ticket.  But I was frustrated after confirming the ticket as airlines was charging abnormal fares to passengers travelling to different Arab destinations from Bangladesh."
He added, "I and some of my friends are going to Middle East together for jobs. But all of us had to borrow huge amount of money from co-operatives due to high migration costs, following an abnormal hike in airfare."
Airlines officials cited Covid-19 related losses and high fuel prices in the international market behind the high air tickets prices.
 "Jet fuel price has increased 150 fold in recent times. The price of jet fuel is directly involved with operating planes. That is why the airfare has increased," said, Kamrul Hasan, spokes man of US-Bangla Airlines which operates flights between Bangladesh and Middle East. Meanwhile, Association of Travel Agents  Bangladesh (ATAB) differed with the view of Kamrul Hasan, saying, "The trend of doing 'extra ordinary profit' is behind the abnormal hike in air tickets," said Mujibul Haque Sarker, Executive Vice-President of ATAB.
"It is true that the jet fuel price has increased, but the airfare hike was irrational," Mujibul Haque said.
When contacted, Mohammad Abul Bashar, President of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), told The New Nation, "It is true that the migrant workers are facing difficulties due to rising trend of the airfare. Soaring airfare contributed to high migration costs," the BAIRA President said.
He said that they have informed the matter to the notice Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister recently.
"I hope that the ministry will convey the matter to the government's highest policy making body and take appropriate measures in this regard," Abul Bashar said.
When contacted, Imran, Ahmed, Minister of the Expatriates' Welfare and Employment Overseas Ministry told The New Nation, "We have asked the authorities concern to reduce air fare so that the migration cost keep normal." He expressed his optimism that the airfare will come down with the government's interfere soon.

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