2 Saudi Airlines Want 25,000 Hajis
Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Two airlines of Saudi Arabia have expressed their desire to carry 25,000 hajj pilgrims.

They have already asked for the permission of regular flights along with hajj flights, said civil aviation and tourism minister Ghulam Mohammed Quader while speaking to reporters at his office on Monday.

He said NAS Air wanted to carry 12,000 pilgrims and Alwafeer wanted 13,000.

The minister said, "The two airlines also want to launch regular flights."

Quader said that the matter, granting permission to operate regular flights, was under consideration.

According to the religious affairs ministry, the Saudi government has agreed to allow 75,000 pilgrims to perform hajj this year. The figure may go up to 94,000, subject to approval from the Saudi authorities.

Quader said Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry 40,000 hajj pilgrims and the Saudi Arabian Airlines will carry 26,000-28,000.

Ten other airlines will carry another 30,000 pilgrims.

Two of them are private operators.

The hajj flights are scheduled to start on October 8.

On Friday, GM Quader had told bdnews24.com that the Saudi authorities had sent a letter to Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) saying they would physically inspect all aircraft over 20 years of age if Dhaka tried to operate such planes to carry hajj pilgrims.

CAAB on Thursday forwarded the letter to the civil aviation ministry, which has been under huge pressure from the national flag carrier Biman and from a parliamentary standing committee to allow aircraft of over 26 years old to carry hajj pilgrims.

The ministry officials said the Saudi letter was a blow to the Biman management as it had lobbied the highest office of the government to allow the Cabo Air, a Nigerian company, to carry hajj passengers in the coming season without registration from the CAAB.

As set out in the rules, all operators must get registration from CAAB to fly planes from Bangladesh. CAAB does not register aircraft over 20 years of age.

But the civil aviation ministry can overrule the CAAB rules and allow older aircraft to fly without CAAB registration.

GM Quader a couple of weeks back even threatened to resign over the issue.

Source: bdnews24.com

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