The US-Bangla Airlines, one of the local carriers, has received approval from the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) to operate cargo flights for importing medical equipment as well as export goods amid the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic.
"As per our appeal, the CAAB gave us permission to operate cargo flights … we are planning to start carrying goods from the next week," a spokesperson of US-Bangla Airlines told BSS today.
General manager (PR) of the airlines, Kamrul Islam said they will operate the cargo flights with four-passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft to the countries having bilateral air service agreements on cargo with Bangladesh.
"We will be able to carry maximum 20 tonnes of goods at the cargo hold of our Boeing 737-800 aircraft if there are no passengers," he said.
The airlines are planning to operate cargo flights to China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain.
He said the airlines would bring various emergency medical supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE), masks and hand sanitizers for medical professionals and others from different countries to fight coronavirus.
Besides, he said, the cargo flights also can carry different emergency export items like RMG products and perishable food items to various destinations.
The spokesperson said the country's exporters and importers have already welcomed the government's decision as US-Bangla Airlines can contribute in keeping the country's export-import flow rolling in this global emergency period.
Currently, the US-Bangla Airlines is the lone carrier of Bangladesh operating international flights to Guangzhou as currently, Bangladesh got air connectivity with China only.
On Saturday, Bangladesh extended the ongoing ban on flight operation till April 30 to and from all European countries and the nations that restricted the entry of Bangladeshis to their territories as well as on all domestic routes over the coronavirus fear.
The commercial scheduled international flights will remain suspended till April 30 to and from 16 countries – Bahrain, Bhutan, Hongkong, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, and the UK, according to an order of Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) circular.
Along with that, all domestic flights will remain suspended till April 30 while cargo, special, air ambulance, relief carrying flights and emergency landing aircraft remain out of this ban.