Delhi’s first Haj flight takes off for Jeddah

October 30th, 2008 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) The first Haj flight from the national capital this year took off Thursday evening from Delhi airport with 240 pilgrims headed for Jeddah, an official said.The Saudi Arabian Airlines aircraft took off at about 4.40 p.m., an hour later than its scheduled time of 3.30 p.m.

Arun Behl, general manager (operations) of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) and chief coordinator of the Haj terminal, said two more Saudi Arabian Airlines flights would take off at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday.

India is home to the world’s third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan.

Mohammed Moassam Ahmed, a member of the All India Haj Committee and chief coordinator of the Haj operations in Delhi, told IANS that over 80 applicants were not able to get visas as the Saudi embassy could not process them.

“There is a lot of space now for the Hajis and the visitors,” said Ahmed and added that Hajis offered Namaz before leaving for Jeddah. The Haj terminal at IGIA here has got a major facelift.

About 18,000 devotees would fly for Jeddah from Delhi. Indian Haj pilgrims will fly to Jeddah from 17 cities including Delhi.

Of the 168,000 Haj pilgrims, 123,211 would fly through the Haj committee, while the rest would bank on the services of private tour operators.

Air India will fly 63,511 pilgrims, while Saudi Arabian Airlines will carry 59,700. Air India would ferry the pilgrims on 400 flights.

On an average, 12 flights would carry about 3,600 pilgrims per day till Nov 16 - from Delhi, Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Srinagar and Varanasi.

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