Hajj flights from May 21, no change in airfare
The Biman Bangladesh Airlines will start flight operations to carry pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on May 21 without reducing the airfare despite widespread criticism.
Biman Managing Director and CEO Shafiul Azim yesterday announced the date and said there is no scope to slash the ticket price of the national flag carrier.
"Biman will serve hajis at the lowest airfare. This is the ideal airfare. The airfare for hajj has been fixed after scientific calculation. I am telling you without hesitation that this is the minimum airfare," he said during a press conference at the Biman headquarter in the city.
Due to high exchange rate of dollar and fuel cost, various charges imposed by the Saudi authorities and high cost of operations, the ticket price has gone up this year, he added.
"Considering all these factors, it's not possible to reduce the hajj airfare."
The government has announced the most expensive hajj package in the history of Bangladesh this year. The package under the government or private hajj management is costing about Tk 7 lakh.
Leaders of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh blame it on the unusual high airfare, saying the airline has increased the fare by 30 percent only to make extra profits.
Biman has fixed a record Tk 1.98 lakh airfare for the pilgrimage, an increase by around Tk 60,000 from last year.
Amid widespread criticism, religious affairs ministry on Thursday asked Biman to reduce the fare at a "reasonable level" as it has received negative reactions from different quarters, including intended pilgrims and hajj agencies.
Criticising Biman for the high airfare, the parliamentary body on religious affairs ministry on Wednesday asked the national flag carrier to bring it down to Tk 1.50 lakh.