Thousands of pilgrims from across the country would embark for Haj journey from the night of July 3. Air India, the State-run airlines firm, has made special arrangements for the pilgrims leaving for Kingdom Saudi Arabia. About 500 flights would take off for Jeddah and the holy city of Medina from India. For this Airbus 320, Boeing 777, 737 and 747 aircraft of Air India would be used. However, to provide special flights for Haj, the crisis-ridden Air India would have to cancel many scheduled flights during the period of Haj while rescheduling several other flights.
Many Air India flights are already grounded due to financial crisis. Due to this, the existing planes are being run on extended routes. Now, to provide 500 more flights for Haj, the airlines is left with no other choice but to cancel or reschedule the existing flights.
Apart from Air India, Saudi Arabia Airlines too will take pilgrims to the holy city. The coordinator of Maharashtra embarkation point Haji Ibrahim said that the Indian government has signed a deal with the Saudi government, according to which the two airlines will carry 50-50 percent of the passengers and bring them back to India. Both airlines are expected to get around 70-70 thousand pilgrims each.
For the first time, pilgrims have deposited money for forward booking. In 2018, there was a considerable loss due to weak rupee and increased travel time. Currently, deposit has been made at rs72 for one USD basis. In case the dollar weakens in future, pilgrims would get the difference amount back. However, if rupee becomes weak then pilgrims would not have to shell out more.
Dr. Maqsood Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer of the Haj Committee of India, told that in many states like Punjab, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, there is no waiting list. Waiting in some other states too is quite low. However, in Maharashtra the waiting list is highest with 20000 waiting for their turn. Nagpur’s quota is of 2500 pilgrims.
The Haj is performed over six days in the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah (the month of Haj).
All arrangements are in place at the Haj Terminal of KAIA to receive the pilgrims, process their passports and group them to go either to Makkah or Madinah.
The huge complex has 14 integrated lounges well equipped to provide the pilgrims with all the required services. They contain special desks for passports, customs, a medical center, a medical team to vaccinate the pilgrims and detect any contagious diseases, a branch of the Ministry of Haj and Umrah, and offices of the United Agents and other utilities.
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