Inversion of flight schedule
Haji pilgrims-related problems will hopefully be settled soon: Menon
Rashed Khan Menon, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister, has said all the hajj-related problems, including flight schedule debacle, will be settled soon.
He came up with the remark after an emergency meeting to converse the overall situation and find ways to make the hajj-related activities smooth and trouble-free on Wednesday, reports UNB.
Referring the increase in the Moallem fees by the Saudi government as one of the main reasons behind the breakdown of the hajj flight schedules, the minister said, "The issue will hopefully be settled soon as the Saudi Arabia government is scheduled to hold a meeting today in this connection."
Representatives from the Religious Affairs Ministry and Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (Haab), and senior officials of Biman Bangladesh Airlines were present at the meeting with Menon in the chair.
After receiving the E-visas from Saudi Embassy, the hajj agencies are facing problem in printing those which is another reason behind the hajj flight cancellation.
As hajj agencies send passports of a group of intending Hall pilgrims together for visas, it is necessary to print their visas together, Haab sources said, adding that when a pilgrim does not get the print copy of the visa, the entire group has to miss a flight.
This year, the Saudi government launched the E-visas programme for the hajj pilgrims.
The hajj pilgrims, who performed hajj in 2015 or 2016, have to pay extra 2,000 Saudi Riyals for performing hajj for the 2nd time, the minister said, adding that it is another reason for not getting visas timely.
He said the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh will urge Saudi Arabia to increase the slots for the canceled flights to take pilgrims as 12 Biman flights and three Saudi Airlines flights have so far been cancelled since the first day of hajj flight operation on July 24 due to shortage of pilgrims over visa complications.
From now on, regular fights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry hajj pilgrims decreasing the number of other passengers, he said.
Menon said 92,000 hajj pilgrims have submitted their passports to the Saudi Embassy for visas to perform hajj this year. Of them, 46,792 pilgrims have received visas while 47,476 others are yet to get those, he added.
Of the visa recipients, 29,839 pilgrims have already left for Saudi Arabia.
Every year, most of the hajj pilgrims leave for Saudi Arabia within the first 10 days into the beginning of the Hajj flights.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Airlines are carrying Bangladeshi pilgrims.