Hajj Package: Ministry asks Biman to reduce airfare
The religious affairs ministry yesterday asked Biman to reduce the airfare so that pilgrims can perform hajj smoothly.
In a circular last night, the ministry said they had negative reactions from different quarters, including pilgrims, hajj agencies, and the media, immediately after fixing of the hajj package.
The airfare was fixed at Tk 1.97 lakh for pilgrimage.
The ministry asked the national flag carrier to bring the fare down to a reasonable level. It, however, didn't say anything about the fare.
It also mentioned that hajj registration was yet to be completed due to high airfare.
"A writ petition has been filed with the High Court over the hajj package. The court opined for reducing the airfare," said the ministry said, adding, "The parliamentary standing committee also recommended reducing the airfare."
In another development, the government earlier extended the deadline for hajj registration to March 21 as the number of people who registered fell short of the quota of 1.27 lakh pilgrims from Bangladesh.
The ministry in another circular in the evening said this would be the last of the deadline.
People willing to perform hajj had requested for the extension, said the statement signed by Deputy Secretary Abul Kashem Mohammad Shahin.
Earlier in the day, Kashem told reporters that high airfare, devaluation of taka against US dollar and Saudi riyal and several other factors made hajj packages expensive.
As the previous deadline ended last night, the number of registrations reached only about 1.08 lakh, according to Hajj Office data.
The ministry extended the deadline three times before to fill the quota agreed between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.
Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (Haab) said many people didn't register for hajj because of the high cost.
To perform hajj, a Bangladeshi pilgrim will have to spend almost Tk 7 lakh, which is around Tk 1.61 lakh more than last year's cost.
The parliamentary committee on religious affairs ministry Wednesday asked Biman Bangladesh Airlines to fix the airfare at Tk 1.50 lakh.
The High Court on the same day asked Attorney General AM Amin Uddin to talk to the authorities concerned about the need for reducing the cost of hajj packages.