The opening of the Padma Bridge has impacted airline operations on the Dhaka-Barishal and Dhaka-Jashore routes, with operators witnessing a sharp drop in passenger numbers on the routes.
Falling air traveler numbers have forced airlines to cut air fares on routes in recent weeks while Novo Air has suspended flight on the Dhaka-Barishal route for some time.
Operators said passengers were turning more to road communication after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge on June 25 than to air travel.
They added that they had reduced the ticket price by up to 30% when many airlines had no more than 70% of their seats occupied on each flight on the Jashore and Barishal routes.
Due to the passenger crisis, Biman Bangladesh Airlines has already reduced its weekly flight on the Dhaka-Barishal route.
US-Bangla Airlines has already suspended its new route on Jashore-Cox’s Bazar in May eight months after starting operations in September 2021.
Operators said they generally consider April to September a slow season, but after the Padma Bridge was opened, they were not getting a response from passengers as they normally did during the slow period.
Even during Eid, there was no rush for plane tickets, they added.
One of the online ticketing platforms ShareTrip sold 245 tickets on the Dhaka-Barishal-Dhaka route between June 20-26, with the average fare from Dhaka being 4,542 Tk and from Barishal 4,228 Tk.
A month later, ShareTrip sold 118 tickets on the Dhaka-Barishal-Dhaka route between July 20-26. The average fare from Dhaka was 2,966 Tk and from Barishal 3,220 Tk.
Likewise, it sold 472 tickets on the Dhaka-Jashore-Dhaka route between June 20 and 26.
The average fare from Dhaka was Tk 4,506 and from Barishal it was Tk 4,387, while in July the number of tickets sold was 308 on the same route between July 20-26, and the average fare from Dhaka was 3,752 Tk and from Barishal it was 3,641 kt.
NovoAir sales officials said they decided to suspend flights to and from Barisal effective August 1 two weeks after reducing the fare from Tk 4,500 to Tk 3,500.
The managing director (public relations) of national flag carrier Bangladesh Biman, Tahera Khondoker, said on Sunday that it had already reduced the number of weekly flights to Dhaka-Barishal from August 5 and lowered fares for the Jashore and Barishal from July 23.
Tickets for Biman flights from Dhaka to Jashore now cost Tk 3,200 and from Dhaka to Barisal it is Tk 3,000 compared to Tk 3,600 and Tk 3,500 respectively previously.
US-Bangla Airline and Novo Air have also cut fares on the Dhaka-Jashore-Dhaka route.
Bangladeshi-American spokesman Kamrul Islam said on Sunday that they had not suspended the Dhaka-Barishal flight as they believed the situation would change by October when tourists visit Kuakata beach in Patuakhali.
“We believe that many air passengers are using road communications to get to Barishal and beyond after the opening of the Padma Bridge, but those who travel regularly by air will soon start air travel,” he added. .