Kolkata: Talks fail, no Bangladesh flights now – Times of India

Kolkata News

KOLKATA: The Biman Bangladesh flights that were to resume on Sunday have been called off as an agreement on the resumption of flights could not be reached between the aviation authorities.
The announcement led to a gloom across the city’s hospitality sector and private hospitals that were getting ready to welcome back patients from Bangladesh, who accounted for around 8%-10% of footfalls till the pandemic.
“We had scheduled the resumption of flights from Sunday with the other two weekly services on Tuesday and Thursday. But we have not received permission from Indian authorities. Once an agreement is signed, we will announce the new dates,” a Biman Bangladesh official told TOI.
This will mean that SpiceJet and IndiGo flights that were also scheduled to resume will now be cancelled. While SpiceJet was supposed to start services on August 26, IndiGo was to start flights the next day. The flights between the two countries were suspended in April during the height of the second wave.
The news of the flight cancellation has dampened the spirit in the New Market-Sudder Street-Marquis Street-Free School Street-Park Street belt as well as hospitals in the city where Bangladeshis are a key clientele.
Bangladeshis account for over 50% sales at New Market, 70% business in hotels, guest houses and foreign currency exchanges on Sudder Street, Marquis Street, Free School Street, Royd Street and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road and 80% of the transport business in the area.
“We are disappointed since 20 online appointments had been issued to Bangladeshi patients who were to take the first few flights. Enquiries had been pouring in and we expected the number to proliferate with flights getting regular. But this is a setback for both Bangladeshi patients and us. They may now look for treatment in south-east Asian countries,” said Peerless Hospital CEO Sudipta Mitra.
Till the pandemic, 15% of Peerless’ patients would be from Bangladesh. They contributed 8%-10% of the hospital’s annual revenue.
AMRI Hospitals that had received 3,000 Bangladeshi patients a month across its three units before the pandemic already processed 300-400 visa invitation forms for Bangladesh patients who were scheduled to visit next week. Most of them have emergency surgeries or treatment lined up, according to AMRI CEO Rupak Barua. “They mostly visit for complicated neuro and gastric surgeries that can’t wait. So, we will end up losing these patients,” said Barua.
More than 35 Bangladesh patients were listed for surgeries and consultations at CMRI Hospital over the next few weeks, according to COO Simmardeep Gill.
Ruby Hospital, too, was left disappointed by the flight cancellation.
“We were looking forward to welcoming them back since they generate a fair share of our revenue. We had issued 11 visa invitation forms to Bangladeshi citizens over the last one week. Most of them are cancer and haemotology patients who were planning to visit our hospital for long-term treatment. They can’t defer their treatment and will settle for other countries, which is unfortunate,” said Ruby Hospital general manager – operations Subhashish Datta.
The return of patients is also crucial for tourism and business in Kolkata, said Travel Agents’ Federation of India chairman (East) Anil Punjabi.
“They invariably visit with families and do a lot of shopping that help the places like New Market and the shopping centres around it in central Kolkata. Their return would have helped the local economy,” Punjabi added.

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/talks-fail-no-bangladesh-flights-now/articleshow/85498492.cms