Aviation minister fears Hajj flight crisis

Dhaka,  Wed,  20 September 2017
Published : 02 Aug 2017, 22:43:51 | Updated : 02 Aug 2017, 22:46:17

Minister fears crisis following Hajj flight cancellations

Aviation minister fears Hajj flight crisis
The Hajj journey from Bangladesh this year may suffer a serious blow if the Saudi visa issue is not settled immediately, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon has said.

His concern follows cancellation of 12 Hajj flights by Biman Bangladesh Airlines in the first week due to a shortage of passengers since it started ferrying pilgrims on July 24.

The hitches surfaced after Saudi authorities in a sudden move demanded an additional 2,000 riyals from those who performed Hajj in 2015-16 and intend to go again this year.

Twelve flights of the national carrier and three flights of the Saudi Arabian Airlines or Saudia that were due to carry a total of 6,000 pilgrims have been cancelled.

“We have to fix the problem no matter how complex it is. A crisis may hit us if the issues are not solved in a day or two,” Menon said on Wednesday.

Biman has kept one additional flight ready although it expects losses, he said.

“We are asking pilgrims through SMS to quickly get a visa and take the flight to avert possible trouble.”

Visas were issued to 46,792 pilgrims out of around 100,000, of whom 29,839 could take a flight which means more than 17,000 pilgrims could not make the journey, according to Menon.

Pilgrims from Bangladesh usually take the flights within the first 10 days of the Hajj travel season, he said.

As many as 47,761 pilgrims need to be ferried to Jeddah before commencement of the Hajj. Biman flights will operate on Aug 26 and those of Saudia on Aug 28.

But now there was no other way but to carry pilgrims on other scheduled flights, said the minister, according to bdnews24.com.

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