1,000 pilgrims get visa, but can’t fly if deadline not extended

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 00:37, Aug 21,2017


Biman Bangladesh Airlines on Sunday sought extension of the deadline set by the Saudi civil aviation authorities for pre-hajj flights, otherwise it feared it would fail to carry over one thousand passengers by August 26.
General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia in mid-August had extended deadline until August 28 while the deadline for ferrying pilgrims for the Bangladesh national flag carrier remained as before.
‘Today, we have applied for extension by a day and if it is not approved, we are afraid we would fail to ferry over one thousand pilgrims,’ said Biman spokesperson Shakil Meraj.
It takes at least three aircrafts to ferry over 1,000 passengers to any destinations.
Both the national flag carriers of Bangladesh and Saudi Arab will have to ferry 41,747 pilgrims by August 27 and August 28 respectively.
Until 8:00am on Sunday, both the airlines carried 84,546 pilgrims — 41,066 by Biman and 43,480 by Saudia. No more flight cancellation was reported on the day.
In the next 24 hours, from 8:00am Sunday, Biman will operate 10 flights. So far Biman cancelled 24 dedicated hajj flights and the Saudia cancelled four others due shortage of pilgrims managed by the private hajj agencies.
The hajj office in Dhaka, meanwhile, has completed receiving visa application on Sunday after the Saudi Arabian government gave Bangladesh until Sunday for submitting intending hajj pilgrims’ visa applications.
The Saudi embassy in Dhaka unofficially informed the religious affairs ministry that the prospective pilgrims could submit their passports for visas till Monday, said Hafiz Uddin, joint secretary (hajj) of religious affairs ministry.
According to the ministry on Sunday, the Saudi embassy in Dhaka issued 1,25,970 visas for out of 1,27,198 aspirants to perform hajj under government and non-government arrangements.
A total of 314 applications were submitted for visa on the day.
A hajj official said, ‘Despite allowing the replacement of 15 per cent pilgrims, the private hajj service providers failed to fill up their 905 quotas’.
‘They initially fill up the form in different names and finally it was found they are false. The situation for many private agencies was so bad that they were persuading many pilgrims who do not want to perform hall this season,’ the official said. 

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