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Hajj flights disrupt regular Biman flights

  • Published at 03:04 pm August 13th, 2017
  • Last updated at 05:56 pm August 13th, 2017
Hajj flights disrupt regular Biman flights
As a result of rescheduled Hajj flights, regular flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines are set to face disruptions. To date, a total of 25 slots allocated to Hajj flights have been cancelled as pilgrims failed to board on account of complications such as visa issues. Among them, Biman cancelled 21 of the flights while Saudi Arabian Airlines cancelled four. The cancelled flights, with a total of about 11,000 seats, amount to a loss of Tk44 crore in revenue. In a bid to make more aircraft available for these rescheduled Hajj flights, the national flag carrier has cancelled all Dhaka-Doha flights till August 26. Shakil Meraj, general manager and spokesperson for Biman, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have no other choice but to cancel Dhaka-Doha flights for smooth operation of hajj flights.” Furthermore, Biman has also diverted larger aircraft from other routes and earmarked them for Jeddah. Boeing 777 ER aircraft, which have the capacity to carry 419 people, have temporarily been removed from the Dhaka-Dubai, Dhaka-Muscat, Dhaka-Abu Dhabi and Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur routes. These routes will now use the smaller Boeing 737, which can carry 163 people. A Biman official criticised the decision as “disastrous,” as hundreds of passengers looking to return to Bangladesh from Malaysia and the Middle East on account of Eid-ul-Azha now face the risk of being stranded. Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Civil Aviation authority has allotted 14 additional slots to Biman for the rescheduled Hajj flights. However, these slots coincide with departure times for Dhaka-London flights. An official of Biman said that a decision on whether Dhaka-London flights would be cancelled is yet to be taken. He added that this is not a new situation for the Biman, as the national flag carrier has cancelled many flights due to shortage of pilgrims over the years. As of Sunday, over 60,000 pilgrims have reached Jeddah. This year, a total 127,198 pilgrims are set to perform hajj. Problems arose for the current crop of pilgrims when the Saudi Arabian government imposed 2,000 Riyals (Tk44,000) as additional fees for repeat pilgrims (who performed Hajj in 2015 and 2016). Moreover, it also hiked Moallem (Hajj guide) fees at the last moment, worsening the situation. However, the Saudi Arabian government eased the visa process following complications faced by a large number of pilgrims.
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