Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will leave tonight on a five-day official visit to Switzerland in a flight of Eitihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sources said, Sheikh Hasina usually uses a Biman aircraft for her official tours. But this time a foreign aircraft has been chosen for her trip abroad considering security aspects following the ongoing crisis in Biman.
The national flag carrier is going through its worst crisis following the emergency landing of a Biman’s VVIP flight carrying the Prime Minister in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat on her way to Budapest on November 27, last year.
A loose nut had caused leakage of fuel tanker lowering the pressure of engine No 1 of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft forcing it to make the emergency landing. The incident also exposed the security flaws of the Prime Minister on board while flying on a national flag carrier.
It had also drawn a widespread flak across the country. The authorities of Biman under fire formed several probe bodies to investigate the incident.
The Biman had suspended nine of its officials in line with the recommendations of the probe bodies. Police, later, arrested them in a case filed against them under the Special Powers Act with the Airport Police Station.
“The Prime Minister is expected leave for Switzerland on Sunday night. An aircraft of Etihad Airways will carry her,” an official of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told The New Nation yesterday.
He added, “Flying on a foreign flight is nothing unusual for the Prime Minister. She earlier made many official trips taking flights of foreign airliners.
The official, however, said the Eitihad Airway’s flight has been preferred this time considering all aspects of her visit. The PMO office and all other concerned agencies are coordinating the visit of the Prime Minister.
When asked, he said, safety and security of the Prime Minister is always getting the highest priority. All the security agencies have already been engaged in the aircraft to look into her security issues on board.
He, however, declined to disclose the total number of entourage with the Prime Minister in the trip.
“Prime Minister will fly in a regular flight of Eitihad Airways,” confirmed Hanif Zakaria, General Manager of Eitihad Airways.
He, however, declined to give details of the flight raising security issues of the Prime Minister.
An Eitihad Airways flight carrying the Prime Minister and her entourage will leave Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 9:45 tonight, sources said.
After a making a stopover at Abu Dhabi, the flight is scheduled to reach Zurich International Airport at 6:45am (local time) on Monday.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to UN Offices Shameem Ahsan will receive the Prime Minister at the airport.
From the airport, Sheikh Hasina in a ceremonial motorcade will be escorted to Silvretta Parkhotel, where she will be staying during her visit to Switzerland, according to Foreign Office.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her entourage leave here for Davos to attend the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The four-day meeting of WEF will start on January 17 in Davos in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland under the theme ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’.
Concluding her tour, the premier will leave Zurich International Airport for Dhaka at 2.35pm (local time) on January 20 and she is expected to arrive at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 10:15 am (local time) on January 21 via Dubai.