Operations of the country's premier airport - Zia International Airport (ZIA) -came to a grinding halt since early Tuesday morning as the employees and officers of the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines enforced a strike.
Apart from adding to the sufferings of the passengers, the strikes dealt a significant blow to export trade, especially vegetable export, to many Middle Eastern destinations.
The agitating Biman employees, however, called off the strike at 3pm after 'fruitful discussions' with the State Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Mir Mohammed Nasir Uddin at BB headquarters.
The BB resumed its operations with a Karachi-bound flight (BG-031) at 3:30 pm, which was scheduled to depart at 12 noon.
During the strike, the officials and employees staged angry demonstrations at ZIA and Shah Amanat International Airport (SAIA) in Chittagong and damaged properties belonging to the civil aviation authorities.
Sources claimed that export of some 55 tonnes of perishable products, mainly comprising of vegetables, was hampered due to cancellation of scheduled Biman flights leading to losses worth US$120,000. But the Karachi-bound flight of Biman carried 10 tonnes of vegetables after the strike was lifted.
Operations of the private GMG Airlines flights to and from ZIA ran as usual. GMG sources claimed that two additional flights were introduced from Chittagong when passengers rushed to their offices in the morning hours.
Operations of some other international airlines including Emirates, Indian Airlines and Thai Airways were also affected by the strike.
A flight landed in Chittagong from Abu Dhabi Tuesday morning with 177 passengers onboard. Sources said that more than hundred passengers of the flight went out from the SAIA keeping their luggage at the airport, while 68 transit passengers remained stranded at the airport.
Sources at the ZIA said that some 16 flights including New York-bound flight of Biman was suspended Tuesday. They claimed that as many as seven domestic flights destined for Chittagong, Jessore, Sylhet, Syedpur, Cox's Bazar could not take off.
Officials and employees of the BB enforced the strike to press home their demands including withdrawal of the decision on forced retirement of Captain Nasim who is also the president of Bangladesh Airlines Pilots' Association (BAPA), increasing salaries and other remunerations.
An urgent meeting was held at BB office at 10am with a view to resolving the demands of the officials and employees. Mir Nasir chaired it while Civil Aviation secretary, managing director of Bangladesh Biman Corporation, general manager (security), leaders from Biman steering committee and other high officials joined it.
After a long discussion, both sides agreed to resolve the stalemate and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this connection.
Giving his reactions to the FE, BAPA president Captain Nasim said: "The callousness of the minister and the ministry were responsible for the strike. The problem could have been solved if the minister would have accepted our demands during a meeting held September 8 last."