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Reducing airfare for hajj pilgrims

HAAB demands formation of technical body

Airfares from BD to KSA high compared to neighbouring countries

FE REPORT | June 11, 2024 00:00:00

The Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) demanded on Monday that the government form an independent technical committee to reduce and re-fix airfares for hajj pilgrims.

HAAB President M Shahadat Hossain Taslim made the demand at a press conference at Hajj camp at Ashkona in the capital on Monday.

The HAAB organised the conference, marking the end of hajj activities for the year 2024.

The hajj flight started on May 9 and ended on June 10, 2024.

Mr Taslim said that the Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the Saudi Airlines and the Flynas carried hajj pilgrims from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia.

"Airfares for hajj passengers from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia are high compared to neighbouring countries. To reduce airfares, a technical committee comprising aviation experts should be formed immediately to reduce the pressure on hajj pilgrims," he said.

He said that this year's hajj services for Bangladeshi pilgrims were done smoothly compared to previous years'.

He put forward some recommendations, including preserving money receipts of depositing money by the hajj pilgrims to their respective agencies banks accounts, making a written document between pilgrims and agencies that will mention facilities and discussion between the ministry of religious affairs and the HAAB for fixing flights schedule.

The holy hajj will be held on June 15, 2024.

Bangladesh gets 127,198 hajj pilgrims quota as per the deal between Bangladesh and Saudi governments.

Out of the number, 10,198 pilgrims could perform hajj under the government management while 117,000 by private arrangement.

This year, Bangladesh failed to fulfil its quota, blaming increased hajj cost, including high airfares for performing hajj from Bangladesh.

This year a total of 85,117 hajj pilgrims (both government and private management) registered their names for performing hajj.

Of the number, hajj pilgrims this year under government management is 4,422 (4,323 hajj pilgrims + 99 - guide) while under private management is 80,695 (78,895 hajj pilgrims + 1800- guide).

Mr Taslim said that the lowest hajj package price excluding the price of qurbani for hajj pilgrims under private management is fixed at Tk 589,800.

He said that they were monitoring and providing services to the hajj pilgrims 24 hours a day.

He said that HAAB teams in Saudi Arabia were providing services for Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims.

The HAAB president said that as the immigration formalities were done in Bangladesh (both Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia) so this year hajj pilgrims got a relief.

He, however, said Hajj pilgrims have to get a little bit pains at Mina, Mujdalifa and Arafat in Saudi Arabia.

He further said that hajj is considered near to jihad.

He said that the religious affairs ministry is the sole authority for issuing licence in favour of an agency for doing hajj activities.

He said that the HAAB is bound to give membership to any agency if it gets permission from the ministry.

He said that it is necessary to take the HAAB's consent while issuing new licence or in the event of changing ownership of hajj agency.

He said that all the registered hajj pilgrims got visas and air tickets due to joint efforts taken by the government and the HAAB.

The return hajj flight will start from June 20, 2024 and will continue until July 22, 2024.

Hajj is a spiritual, emotional and physical challenges that test the patience and temperament of the pilgrims.

Every year, between two and three million people participated in the hajj pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, the government has taken measures for fulfilling hajj quota during the next year's hajj.

The Islami Foundation Bangladesh which is under the ministry will motivate imams across the country through arranging training programmes aiming to motivate people to perform holy hajj next year.

Besides, local private hajj agencies will also work in their respective position to fulfil hajj quotas for next year.

"We (govt) have taken initiatives to increase the number of hajj pilgrims aiming to fulfil hajj quotas next year," Muhammad Kamruzzaman, director (deputy secretary), hajj office in Ashkona of Dhaka, told the FE recently.

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