Hajj pilgrims air concern over their flight schedule

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 05 Aug 2017, 23:07:54 | Updated : 06 Aug 2017, 10:08:53
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Hajj pilgrims air concern over their flight schedule

Talha Bin Habib
Md Mofizuddin (65) and her wife Sultana Rezia (55) along with 72 intending Hajj pilgrims who came from Potnitala of  Naogaon to Haji Camp at Askona on Friday last are not sure when they will fly to Saudi Arabia.

Semona Bahar (55) and her husband Md Obaidulla (68) from Masterpara of Feni, who also arrived at the camp on August 04 last, also do not know when they will avail their Hajj flight.

Abdul Aziz (68), who came from Gobindaganj of Gaibanda, told the FE that he reached the camp on August 03 last and his scheduled flight time is set at 4:00 am today (Sunday). And until around 6:00 pm on Saturday, his agency could not confirm his flight.

"I came here (Hajj camp) on Thursday last. But I am not still certain when I could fly as my Hajj agency is yet to

give me confirmation of my flight," he told the FE at around 6:00 pm at the camp.

Like them, many intending Hajj pilgrims were seen eagerly waiting on Saturday for their flights as the some Hajj agencies failed to give them exact time of their flight schedule.

"Our Hajj agency told us that we will fly tomorrow (Sunday). But we are yet to get our visas and could not know our flight schedule," Afasuddin (65), a farmer by profession, told the FE at Hajj camp on the day.  

Some of the Hajj agency owners, however, said they were not responsible for cancellation of flights.

They attributed the cancellation to increased Muallim fees, complications over house rents in Makkah and Madina, two thousand extra Saudi Riyal fees for repeated Hajj (who wants to perform Hajj again) and e-visa printing for Hajj pilgrims.

Around 6,500 Hajj pilgrims could not be able to fly as their scheduled flights were cancelled, said Saiful Islam, director of the government Hajj office at Ashkona in Dhaka.

He said they were working on how to send those Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as soon as possible. He sounded hopeful of sending them abroad ahead of time.

Preferring anonymity, an owner of a Hajj agency said there are some middlemen who took the money from the Hajj pilgrims but they did not pay the full amount to the agencies. This also contributed to the complications in arranging Hajj flights.

"Due to all these reasons, the Hajj pilgrims could not get visas in time. This has compelled Biman to cancel some of its flights," he said.

A total of 1,271,987 pilgrims from Bangladesh are expected to perform this year's Hajj. Over 3,500 pilgrims under government management already received their visas from the Saudi embassy in Dhaka.

Until to date, 65,000 people have received Saudi visas.

Of them, 40,000 already left the country for performing Hajj, according to Hajj Office at Askona in the capital.  

So far, a total of 19 flights have been cancelled, depriving 6,000 to 6,500 Hajj pilgrims of their flights  to Saudi Arabia.

But the Hajj Office at Askona told the FE that Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Airlines could carry them before August 26.

The last flight for Hajj pilgrims, who are going to Saudi Arabia under government arrangement, is set on August 25. August 26th is the last flight for Hajj pilgrims who are going under private arrangement.     

Four flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines with Hajj pilgrims were supposed to leave the country to Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Until around 5:00 pm on the day two flights left the country.

The rest are expected to fly on time, the official of the Hajj Office hoped.  

talhabinhabib@yahoo.com
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