Problems related to Haj will go soon: Menon

A Monitor Desk Report 03 Aug, 2017  |    -      +
DHAKA : All the Haj-related problems, including flight schedule debacle, will be resolved within a day or two, Rashed Khan Menon, Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism said on August 2.

He came up with the assurance after an emergency meeting to discuss the overall situation and find ways to make the Haj-related activities smooth and hassle-free, according to a news agency.

Mentioning the increase in the Moallem fees by the Saudi government as one of the main reasons behind the breakdown of the Haj 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 regard."

Representatives from the Religious Affairs Ministry and Haj 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 Haj agencies are facing problem in printing those which is another reason behind the Haj flight cancellation.

As Hajj agencies send passports of a group of intending Haj pilgrims together for visas, it is necessary to print their visas together, Haab sources said, adding that when one 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 Haj pilgrims, who performed Haj in 2015 or 2016, have to pay extra 2,000 Saudi Riyals for performing Haj for the second time, the minister said, adding that it is another reason for not getting visas timely.

He said the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) will urge Saudi Arabia to increase the slots for the cancelled flights to take pilgrims as 12 Biman flights and three Saudi Airlines flights have so far been cancelled since the first day of Haj flight operation on July 24 due to shortage of pilgrims over visa complications.

From now on, regular fights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry Haj pilgrims decreasing the number of other passengers, he said.

Menon said 92,000 Haj pilgrims have submitted their passports to the Saudi Embassy for visas to perform Haj 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 Haj 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.

Some 177 flights were scheduled to carry the hajj pilgrims till August 26. Of them, only 29 dedicated flights and eight scheduled ones have so far taken off for Saudi Arabia.

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

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