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POST TIME: 12 July, 2018 12:57:27 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 July, 2018 09:28:33 AM
Thousands of tickets unsold
Hajj flights
STAFF REPORTER

Thousands of tickets unsold

About 36,501 tickets of Biman Bangladesh and Saudi Arabian Airlines remain unsold even as the first Hajj flight is scheduled to leave Dhaka for Jeddah on Saturday with 419 pilgrims.

The government has dropped 400 passengers from its quota of Hajj pilgrims this year due to various reasons, though there are many passengers under the private management to perform Hajj.

Earlier, the Saudi government allocated a total of 127,198 pilgrims for Bangladesh, but the government decided to send 126,798 to perform Hajj, reducing 400 pilgrims from the government quota.

“Bangladesh Biman will carry 64,967 pilgrims on 187 flights, while the rest 61,831 will go to Saudi Arabia on 188 flights of Saudi Airlines this year,” religious affairs ministry secretary Anisur Rahman told The Independent yesterday (Wednesday).

When asked about unsold tickets, Rahman said about 24,501 tickets of Saudi Arabian Airlines and about 12,000 tickets of Biman Bangladesh Airlines were unsold till yesterday (Wednesday).

“Selling of tickets is better this year compared to last year. Many agency owners are still in Saudi Arabia to rent houses for pilgrims. So, all  tickets will be sold before getting visa,” he added.

A total of 400 pilgrims have been dropped from the government quota, Rahman said. “We have reduced the number because of reasons like house rent in Saudi Arabia. It would have been possible to send these 400 pilgrims through private management, but the decision was changed this year,” he added. It would save about Tk. 4 crore of public money, he noted.  

“Three flights will leave Dhaka for Jeddah on Saturday with Hajj pilgrims. Religious affairs minister Principal Motiur Rahman and civil aviation and tourism minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal will jointly inaugurate the first Hajj flights,” he said.

This year, 126,798 pilgrims will be going to Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj. Of them, 6,798 will perform Hajj under government management and 1,20,000 under private management, he added.

Earlier, it was decided that 7,198 pilgrims will go to Saudi Arabia under government management and 120,000 under private management.

“It is not yet clear why the government has taken such a decision. There is scope to send pilgrims under private management if the government is unable to send pilgrims under state management,” Hajj Agencies' Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) secretary general M Shahadat Hossain Taslim told this correspondent.

The pilgrims will go to Saudi Arabia through 528 Hajj agencies, starting from July 14 and continuing till August 15. The return flights are scheduled to begin on August 27 and continue till September 25.

Hajj is likely to be held on August 21 this year, subject to the sighting of the moon.

SR