Rafiqul Islam Azad:
The Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism hastily permitted South Korean private aircraft Jin Air to operate as non-scheduled/charter passenger flights on Monday, allegedly in connivance with a section of officials from concerned ministries for unknown reasons.
Earlier, Jin Air, a South Korean private airliner, was accused of operating commercial flights for three years under the cover of diplomatic flights. Questions arise regarding the interest and intentions of the officials concerned in providing permission to the airliner, especially when their diplomatic flights were canceled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 16 this year.
A Jin Air flight (LJ 761) left Incheon International Airport for Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 6:38 pm local time (3:38 pm BST) Monday with 130 passengers, just an hour after receiving permission from Bangladesh’s Civil Aviation Authority. In return, Jin Air flight (LJ 762) was scheduled to depart from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Incheon International Airport at 9:50 pm on the same day with 25 workers under the Employment Permit System (EPS) and 68 general passengers.
Sources in the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh said that CAAB provided the permission under the directives of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, following the recommendation of a top official in the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.
When contacted, Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, Dr. Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, on Monday told this correspondent that he recommended the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism to take necessary measures to facilitate flights for sending workers to South Korea under EPS.
If the Ministry of Civil Aviation doesn’t facilitate flights for workers under EPS, they won’t be able to go to South Korea. This will have repercussions in the manpower business, so I have requested them to take necessary measures in this regard, he said.
Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Md. Mokammel Hossain, couldn’t be reached for comments even after repeated attempts via cell phone and text messages.
Sources said that despite the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment recommending the Jin Air flight, it is carrying more commercial passengers than the number of workers under EPS and operating a good number of regular flights between Dhaka and Seoul.
After receiving permission from the Foreign Ministry to operate diplomatic flights following the emergence of the Corona epidemic, Jin Air was exempted from aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges, taxes, and fees on the Dhaka-Seoul-Dhaka route. They continued to operate flights for three years, evading the concerned authorities and carrying commercial passengers, depriving the country of taxes amounting to Tk 55 crore.
The issue came to light when another company was allowed to operate commercial flights on the same route. The Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed great anger about this and ordered the suspension of Jin Air flights.
Despite all this, Jin Air has been granted permission for commercial charter flights even after the suspension of its diplomatic flights, and it is still selling scheduled tickets even when the flight is not allowed. It is alleged that Jin Air is engaging in these anomalies with the help of the protocol wing of the Ministry of External Affairs and a circle within the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism and the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.
A senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the matter has come to our notice, and orders have been given to stop this practice. The company is not allowed to operate such flights after October 16. No one knows how they have been engaging in this illegal work for so long.
Earlier, the Civil Aviation Ministry gave the same permission to Jin Air to operate charter flights on October 23 and October 30.
Meanwhile, Jin Air is allegedly selling tickets online until March 2024, despite receiving permission to operate only one flight.
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