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Air Sylhet, a UK based airline established mainly by expatriate Bangladeshis, yesterday laid bare its plan to start operation of flights for the first time on an international route from Sylhet by the month-end or early January.

At a press conference in Dhaka, Kabir Khan, the airline's chairman, said that it will initially conduct two flights a week with a single Boeing 767 aircraft on London- Luton-Sharjah- Sylhet-Dhaka route.

Khan sought extension of the timeframe for keeping Bangladesh's sky open for new entrants to the benefit of the travellers, especially overseas job seekers, who sometimes face unavailability of aircraft to fly.

"We hope that the government will extend the deadline and keep sky open for the benefit of the travellers", Khan told journalists.

The government's open sky policy expires this month.

In September, the country's three airports were declared open for international flight operators in Bangladesh for a period of three months to facilitate travel of Bangladeshi workers to the Middle Eastern countries and Malaysia.

The airports came under the open sky policy are Zia International Airport in Dhaka, Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong and Osmani International Airport in Sylhet.

“Even if the government doesn't extend the time, we will operate our scheduled flights through partnership arrangements,” the chairman of Air Sylhet said, adding that they eyed air travel by about 7 million expatriate Bangladeshis.

“We believe there is a viable business. We also believe that we have the capacity to provide standard services,” Khan said.

Kim O'Neil, the airline's managing director, said their preparation for starting operation of flights is now at final stage.

Neil however pointed out that the airport in Sylhet still suffers from refueling arrangement.

“The airport has been declared as an international one. But it still lacks full facility,” said Air Sylhet Vice Chairman Shab Uddin.

According to the industry experts, the aviation market in Bangladesh shows around 8 percent growth per annum..

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