A total of 157 Bangladeshi nationals, who were stranded in Australia due to the restriction on international flights amid the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, returned home from Melbourne on early Saturday.
The special Sri Lankan Airlines flight landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in capital Dhaka around 1am [GMT19:00] on Saturday, after a stopover at Colombo, reports United News of Bangladesh.
The High Commission for Bangladesh in Canberra facilitated the return with support from authorities of Bangladesh and Australia and with active cooperation from the Victorian Bangladeshi Community Foundation (VBCF) and Melton Travel Center who were assigned to coordinate with intending passengers and manage funds and ticketing tasks, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Initially at its “needs assessment” template on its website, the High Commission received requests of 340 Bangladesh origin persons in Australia who expressed willingness to return to Bangladesh.
Based on this estimate of 300 plus stranded Bangladeshis seeking to return, the High Commission secured in principle approval of Bangladesh authorities to accept special non-scheduled flight from Australia and tried to charter a flight from Sydney to Dhaka.
But, drastic reduction in demand from the stranded Bangladeshis compelled the High Commission to charter Sri Lankan Airlines to operate this flight from Melbourne.
All passengers were notified to carry up-to-date COVID symptom-free or COVID negative certificate issued within three days before departure.
Bangladesh High Commission thanked Victorian Bangladeshi Community Foundation (VBCF), Melton Travel Center, Bangladesh Consulate General in Sydney as well as Sri Lankan Airlines for operationalizing this non-scheduled flight.
220 Australians leave Dhaka
Meanwhile, a non-scheduled Sri Lanka Airlines flight from Dhaka to Melbourne left with 220 Australian citizens and their families on early Saturday.
Together with 285 passengers who departed from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on April 16, over 500 have so far returned home to Australia, said the Australian High Commission in Dhaka.
The High Commission said they, for the second time in three weeks, helped Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families to return to Australia.
Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Jeremy Bruer was present at the Airport to see them off.
A number of High Commission staff were also there to ensure the process went smoothly.