Flight operations between Bangladesh and India will resume on Aug 20 under an ‘air bubble’ arrangement, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said.
He made the announcement during an event at state guest house Padma in the presence of Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami on Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of demand among patients in Bangladesh [to travel to India for medical care]. That’s why we’d requested India [to resume flight services] and I thank them for agreeing to this. ”
An air bubble is a temporary arrangement between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger flights under special circumstances at a time when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bangladesh started operating flights to and from India in October 2020 under the ‘air bubble’ agreement amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But in April, air connectivity between the neighbouring countries was suspended after the pandemic took a catastrophic turn in India.
The revival of the air bubble arrangement was announced during a ceremony to mark the handover of ambulances gifted by India as part of a shared effort to combat COVID-19.
Speaking at the event, Doraiswami said Bangladesh is on India’s priority list for vaccine exports but he did not provide a date for when the supplies would resume.
“We’re in the process of meeting the demand in India,” he said. “When the coronavirus pandemic deteriorated, we focused on meeting the demand back home.”
“In the meantime, we’ve been sending oxygen and other medical supplies. Hopefully, if our demand in India is met, we’ll start sending vaccines to Bangladesh as well.”
Bangladesh launched a mass vaccination campaign in February using doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India.
The government struck a deal for 30 million doses of Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute. But following the arrival of 7 million doses, the agreement fell through as the pandemic situation in India worsened dramatically and put a halt to vaccine exports.
India is working on delivering the vaccines bought by Bangladesh, said Doraiswami, adding, “We’re not saying we do not have the supplies. We’ll send them once the crisis ends in India.”
“We’ll send the vaccines whenever it’s possible to do so because Bangladesh is on our priority list. Bangladesh is committed to buying the vaccines.”
Cortesy – BDNEWS24