Biman to carry all waiting pilgrims

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Pns: Biman Bangladesh Airlines can carry all awaiting intending pilgrims leaving for Jeddah to perform hajj as the national flag carrier got permission from the Saudi civil aviation authority to operate extra eight hajj flights till August 28.

"It's a relief. We got the confirmation this afternoon from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia that they gave us eight additional slots till August 28 to operate our hajj flights. Now, we can say the uncertainty centering carrying of pilgrims is over," Biman's spokesperson General Manager (Public Relations) Shakil Meraj told BSS.

Biman was scheduled to complete its pre-hajj flights operation by August 26 (today), fixed by GACA of Saudi Arabia earlier. But now the flag carrier got the permission to operate the flights till August 28, Meraj said.

Till 10 am today, a total of 116,373 Bangladeshi pilgrims left the country for Jeddah. Of the pilgrims, Biman carried 60,742 pilgrims and Saudia Airlines 55,631 hajiis, official sources said.

"By tonight, Biman is schedule to carry 1,959 more pilgrims that means by today we carry total 62,701 pilgrims that is only 898 less than our target of carrying 63,599 pilgrims for this year," Meraj said.

The Saudi government set a quota of 1,27,198 people for Bangladesh for performing hajj this year. Of the target, so far 126,205 pilgrims have obtained Saudi visa for performing hajj.

Meraj said as Biman Bangladesh airlines got the permission of operating additional flights, it can even carry some passengers of Saudia Airlines, if the Saudi national flag carrier fails to fulfill its target of carrying pilgrims.

PNS/Tamanna Khan