Saudi Airlines to operate 19 Haj flights from Bangalore

November 18th, 2008 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 18 (IANS) Saudi Arabian Airlines will operate 19 charter flights from here, India’s IT hub, to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to fly Haj pilgrims from Karnataka and other southern states, the company said here Tuesday.”We are operating 19 charters from Bangalore to Jeddah till Dec 29. The first flight with 305 pilgrims took off Monday,” an airline official told IANS.

The flight was flagged off late Monday by state home minister B.S. Acharya.

In addition, national carrier Air India (AI) will also operate four chartered flights to ferry additional pilgrims to Jeddah. Both the carriers will operate return flights from Dec 31 to Jan 12 from Medina and Jeddah to Bangalore.

AI provides ground-handling facilities to Saudi Airlines for the chartered service. For the convenience of Haj pilgrims, AI has opened counters at the Haj camp at the Idgah Maidan here for checking in of luggage.

“The check-in counters will be open for longer duration to prevent crowding and last-minute rush. Boarding cards will be issued to pilgrims for outbound and return journey at the Haj camp. Customs and immigration formalities will also be completed at the camp,” the official said.

The pilgrims are ferried to the airport in separate coaches, and a dedicated “Haj terminal” has been set up for them.

“We have deployed additional staff in the Gulf region like Sharjah and Jeddah to provide assistance to pilgrims, especially women, the elderly and the disabled,” an AI spokesman said.

According to Indian consul general in Jeddah Sayeed Ahmed Baba, the government has deputed five coordinating officials, 135 doctors, 146 paramedics, 51 assistant Haj officers and 171 Haj assistants to take care of the pilgrims at Mecca and eadina.

“Accommodation will be provided in the traditional areas of Mina. About 51,171 Indian hajis will stay near Haram, 31,422 at Aziziyaah, 12,876 at Hai Al-Hijra, Dawar Khudai 9522, Shisha 9426 and Shisha Nuzha 460,” Baba said in a statement.

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