Abu Dhabi: A glitch in passenger information systems left a group of 127 Bangladeshi workers stranded at the capital’s airport over the weekend.
A top embassy official confirmed to Gulf News on Monday that the majority of the stranded had already returned to Bangladesh, with the remainder set to fly back soon.
“Two flights carrying about 400 passengers had landed at the Abu Dhabi International Airport on Friday. Among them, 127 passengers were not allowed to enter the country because there was a system error, because some data, known as advanced passenger information (API), had not reached the authorities on time,” Mohammad Abdul Alim, labour counsellor at the Bangladeshi Embassy, told Gulf News.
“There was no problem with the passengers’ visa or COVID-19 status. It was an error with API transmission for both flights — one by Biman Bangladesh and another by Air Arabia,” he added.
API, which includes passport information of passengers, is required by the immigration authorities of many countries before departure of any inbound or outbound flight to ensure safety and security.
Abdul Alim explained that without API, passengers do not have adequate safety clearance.
“API is not limited to passengers from Bangladesh. It is also required from passengers travelling to the UAE from India, Pakistani, Egypt and Afghanistan, for instance. Since it had not been transmitted on time, there was not much that could be done to help the workers enter the country per se, even through diplomatic channels,” he said.
Following embassy efforts, about 75 of the stranded passengers have already been sent back on a Biman Bangladesh return flight. “We are working to ensure that the rest of the workers return home soon, possibly today. And since the workers were stranded due to a system issue, we have recommended that the airlines provide compensation to the passengers,” Abdul Alim said.
In the meantime, the workers are being housed at an airport hotel. “It is an unfortunate situation, so we have been working round-the-clock to ensure that the workers are comfortable,” the official added.