14 airlines allowed as third carriers to ferry Hajj pilgrims

The government has so far allowed 14 airlines as third carriers besides Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited and Saudi Arabian Airlines to ferry 1,07,343 hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and back home for $1465 each passenger this year.

The hajj flights from Dhaka to Jeddah will begin on September 29 and continue till October 30, 2011.The return flights which will begin on November 10 will be concluded on December 10 as the main ritual may take place on November 6, according to the hajj flight schedule.

‘We have allowed 14 airlines as 3rd carriers to cope with an increased number of hajj pilgrims this year,’ civil aviation minister GM Quader told a press briefing at the secretariat on Monday.

In reply to a query, he said, the authorities would take action if any operator charges additional money for air tickets in violation of the agreement with the government.

Besides the national flag carrier Biman and the second carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines, the third carriers GMG and NAS Air would be operating some dedicated flights to Jeddah, the minister said.

Of the total hajj pilgrims, only 3,770 will perform hajj under the government management and the rest under private management.

Around 94,000 pilgrims performed hajj in 2010 from Bangladesh. Per hajj pilgrim airfare has been increased to $1,465 this year from $1,350 in 2010, from which the third carriers will have to pay $165 to Biman as royalty, said officials.

Biman will carry 36,225 hajj pilgrims, Saudia will ferry 30,000 and the third carriers will fly the rest.

President Zillur Rahman is scheduled to inaugurate the hajj flight programme on September 28 at the Haji Camp at Uttara.

Two Bangladeshi private airlines – GMG Airlines and United Airways – have agreed to carry 14,000 and 4000 hajj pilgrims respectively.

As per the agreement, Air Arabia is to carry 2,500 passengers, Jet Airways (India) Limited to carry 2,000, Kuwait Airways 3,000, Qatar Airways 4,500, Etihad Airways 2,500, RAK Airways 1,000, Gulf Air 9,000, Emirates 7,000 passengers, Turkish Airlines 1000, Pakistan International Airlines 1000 and Malaysia Airlines to carry 1,000 hajj passengers.

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