44,000 Hajj pilgrims to travel in seven days 2,713 yet to get visas

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 20 Aug 2017, 12:36:20
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44,000 Hajj pilgrims to travel in seven days 2,713 yet to get visas

FE Report
Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Airlines will have to carry 44,000 Hajj pilgrims in next seven days while 2,713 pilgrims still have not got visas, officials said.

Of the two airlines, Biman will carry Hajj passengers for seven days and Saudi Airlines for one day. But Biman had to defer one flight Saturday due to shortage of Hajj passengers.

Meanwhile, the Saudi embassy in Dhaka officially informed the religious affairs ministry last Friday about the extension of visa processing time for three days. Sunday will be the last working day of the Saudi embassy. Still visa processing of 2,173 pilgrims has not been completed.

But Hajj office director Saiful Islam claimed that they still have time until Monday.     

Biman or Saudi Airlines did not have to cancel any flight on Saturday. But Biman deferred one flight BG 9077 at 10:25 AM to 5:30 PM on August 25.

A total of 32 Hajj flights of Biman and Saudi Airlines were either cancelled or deferred in last 22 days.

This year 1,27,198 pilgrims were supposed to perform Hajj. But 1,27,015 were registered for visas. Passports of 183 Hajj pilgrims have not been submitted to Ashkona Hajj camp yet.

The Hajj office said 1,24,485 pilgrims got visas until Saturday. Of them, 80,496 reached Saudi Arabia.    

The last Hajj flight of Biman is on August 26 and Saudi Airlines on August 27.

Biman is still suffering a capacity loss of 1,700 due to flight cancellation or postponement.   

General manger (public relations) of Biman Shakil Meraj said Biman has been flying without full capacity everyday.

There is uncertainty about the rest 44,000 pilgrims who have got visas.

He, however, expressed the hope that this crisis can be overcome if all the slots are used everyday and permission for an additional day is available to carry the extra passengers.  

On Saturday, seven flights of Biman and four flights of Saudi Airlines carried 4,287 Hajj passengers. Only 426 could not travel in these flights.

Some Hajj agencies booked pilgrims without renting houses and did not also collect tickets. This has caused Hajj flight cancellation and deferment.

Meanwhile, UNB report adds: Religious Affairs Secretary Abdul Jalil said on Saturday all the intending pilgrims will be able to reach Saudi Arabia by August 28 next.

"A total of 81,063 intending hajj pilgrims left Dhaka as of Saturday morning and the remaining ones will be able to reach Saudi Arabia within the stipulated time (Aug 28)," he said.

The Saudi government has approved e-Visa applications for 127,156 intending Bangladeshi pilgrims till 9 am on Saturday, according to the secretary.

He said the remaining visa applications will also be approved within the given time. The Saudi embassy will provide the passports by Sunday.

Jalil, however, said 1-2 per cent applications from intending pilgrims are rejected on various grounds every year.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Airlines started carrying Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims on July 24 last and will continue carrying till the morning of August 28.

Some 127,198 pilgrims were scheduled to perform hajj from Bangladesh this year under government and private managements.

Of them, 122,998 pilgrims are under private management, while the rest 4,200 under government management.

Out of total of 80,664 hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia so far this year, 39,081 were carried by Biman Bangladesh Airlines while 41,583 by Saudi Airlines, said Shakil Meraj, General Manager (PR) of the national flag carrier.

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