On paper, there are five doctors at the airport though there is none in reality
Asking people to follow the hygiene rules amid coronavirus pandemic, restriction on movement of long-distance and district level transports was lifted a month ago.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB) has also allowed flights to Chattogram, Sylhet, Syedpur (Nilphamari) and Jessore routes since the end of the general holidays over the pandemic.
However, the airport at the country's tourist capital Cox's Bazar is not allowed to operate flights for lacking adequate number of doctors despite that Cox's Bazar is more profitable than other domestic air routes.
CAAB Chairman Air Vice Marshal Mofidur Rahman said the Cox's Bazar airport had not been allowed to operate flights as it could not meet the preconditions set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
According to the ICAO, there should be adequate medical facilities and doctors at the airport to operate the flight so that if someone falls sick on the plane, they can get down at the airport and get first aid.
Flights are allowed only at airports where medical arrangements have been made, which Cox's Bazar Airport authorities have not yet done, he added.
Cox's Bazar Airport Manager Abdullah Al Farooq said two special flights landed at the airport when commercial passenger flights were closed to prevent Covid-19 outbreak. Cargo flights are running regularly. Some doctors came to the airport randomly.
"However, the Cox's Bazar civil surgeon assigned five doctors on the duty roster to the airport. We also gave them the airport ID card. On paper, there are still five doctors at the airport though there is none in reality," he said.
While contacted, Civil Surgeon Mahbubur Rahman said at present a large number of doctors are required in different Covid-19 hospitals, so it is not possible to provide doctors at the airport at present.
"However, we are trying to manage doctors to make the flight movement smooth," he said.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the red zone in Cox's Bazar continued till June 30 as Covid-19 infection increased at a geometric rate. Businesses have also opened on a limited scale since July 1.
The Cox's Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industries says Cox's Bazar has suffered a loss of about Tk10,000 crore in Covid-19 crisis. The hotel-motel, restaurant and tourism businesses are in danger of bankruptcy.
On Pahela Boishakh and Eid-ul-Fitr, there was a lot of hope for business, but the trade was zero. Traders are not expecting business on the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha too.
Rezaul Karim, a travel and tourism businessman and a former president of the Tours Association of Cox's Bazar, said half a crore domestic and foreign tourists visit Cox's Bazar every year and many long-distance buses and 10-12 flights operate for them.
"The tourist service has more than four hundred hotels-motels, cottages and several hundred restaurants, everything of which has been closed since March. We are counting the loss of thousands of crores of taka," he said.
Lion MN Karim, senior vice-president of the Cox's Bazar Hotel-Motel Owners Association and chairman of the Ocean Paradise Hotel and Resort, said Covid-19 had badly affected the tourism industry.
The guests of the posh hotels usually come and go by plane. Aviation needs to be normalised to save the tourism industry, he demanded.
Riyad Iftekhar, general manager of White Orchid Hotel and organising secretary of the Cox's Bazar Hotel Officers' Association, said many were afraid to come to Cox's Bazar by bus.
"Many people will come to Cox's Bazar if the air traffic becomes normal. In the interest of the business community, we call for the operation of the airport with the help of intern doctors," he urged.
Deputy Commissioner Kamal Hossain said he did not know the flights were stopped just for lack of doctors and assured that he would look into the matter.
The CAAB imposed a ban on flights on domestic routes since March 24. Later, flights were allowed from Dhaka to Sylhet, Chattogram, and Syedpur on June 1 and to Jessore on June 11.