Biman cancels another hajj flight
Biman Bangladesh Airlines yesterday cancelled another hajj flight thanks to failure of private hajj tour operators for not confirming visas and air tickets of the pilgrims.
Earlier on Saturday, the national airliner was forced to cancel two hajj flights on the same ground, Shakil Meraj, general manager, public relations, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, told The Daily Star.
He said cancellation of three dedicated hajj flights caused uncertainty over performing hajj by 1,244 pilgrims apart from image and monetary loss of the national flag carrier.
"We need to buy slot [permission and charge for landing at Jeddah and Makkah airports] from the Saudi Aviation Authority in advance. Biman needs to pay certain amount of money as compensation if we fail to land there on due date and time," he added.
He further said private hajj tour operators should become more serious to collect visas and tickets for pilgrims as the country's image is involved.
Mahbubur Rahman, public relations officer of civil aviation ministry, said Biman in 2016 was forced to cancel at least 23 dedicated hajj flights causing uncertainty over performing hajj by several thousand pilgrims.
He added irresponsibility and money making attitude of the hajj agencies are mainly responsible for the messy condition in hajj flights.
"Every year hajj agencies exercise the same practice to make their fortune at the cost of sufferings of the pilgrims," he observed.
Shakil Meraj said Biman has so far carried 11,036 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as of yesterday morning.
As many as 127,198 pilgrims from Bangladesh are set to perform the annual ritual this year. Biman and Saudi Arabian Airlines would carry equal number of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
The maiden pre-hajj flight started on July 24. The last date of pre-hajj flight is August 26.
Hajj, the largest religious congregation of the Muslims, and Eid-ul-Azha are likely to be held in early September.