Kolkata traders breathe sigh of relief as India-Bangladesh flights resume

Business owners in Kolkata breathed a sigh of relief after flights were restarted between India and Bangladesh who hope for a turnaround ahead of Durga Puja.

The first flight from Dhaka, after reopening of air connectivity, landed in Kolkata on Sunday giving traders in Kolkata markets such as New Market, Free School Street, Marquis Street, Lindsay Street and Park Street reason to rejoice as they depend heavily on customers from the country.

Air travel between the two countries was suspended in April as the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic engulfed India.

Sunil Mahato, a garment shop owner at Kolkata’s Marquis Street told TOI his business depends entirely on a section of upscale customers from Bangladesh who come to the east Indian city for their shopping needs during festive season ahead of Eid and Puja. He added this year was a washout in terms of business in the last few months due to travel restrictions.Flights between India and Bangladesh resumed with effect from September 3, 2021, after four months under an air bubble agreement signed by the two countries last year.


“The air bubble may be resumed w.e.f. 03.09.21 till resumption of scheduled International passenger flights,’ MoCA letter read.

The Indian government imposed a number of restrictions with respect to the number of passengers and other health protocols before the resumption of scheduled international flights between the two countries. Passengers from Bangladesh will be required to undertake a self-paid Covid test upon arrival at Indian airports. Restrictions were also placed on the number of travellers in an aircraft bound for India from Bangladesh.

Another shop owner in New Market area of the city said customers from neighbouring Bangladesh constitute nearly 50% of their sales.

The owner of Bombay Silk Store, Vinay Mangalani, said many Bangladeshi customers come to the city on medical visas with their patients. They form a significant part of his customer base.

The report added Bangladeshis account for 50% of sales at New Market and contribute to almost 70% of business at hotels, guest houses, foreign currency exchange outlets on Sudder Street, Marquis Street, Free School Street, Royd Street, and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road and 80% of transport business in these areas.

Mir Ashraf Ali, manager of Oriental Hotel on Sudder Street told TOI during Puja in the pre-Covid era, his establishment had agreements with other guest houses for more rooms for patrons. Their absence hit the business badly, he added.


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