Around 800 pilgrims may not be able to perform Hajj this year, as Biman Bangladesh Airlines could not obtain slots – permission to land in particular airports.
The national carrier will not be able to accommodate the 800 pilgrims, despite the fact that 993 of the listed pilgrims are not going to perform Hajj this year as they did not apply for visas.
Biman spokesperson Shakil Meraj told the Dhaka Tribune that the airline was supposed to carry 63,599 Bangladeshis this year. However, if the Saudi Arabian civil aviation does not allocate more slots, it will be impossible to carry any more pilgrims.
“We hope to fly all the pilgrims to Jeddah if we get the stipulated slots. The Saudi Arabian government is yet to allot any new slots. To carry all the pilgrims, we need at least two slots,” said Shakil.
Biman applied for 12 additional slots, but only got two. The airline needs four slots in total to transport all the pilgrims.
As of Wednesday, Biman has transported 50,520 pilgrims while Saudi Arabian Airlines carried 50,274.
A total of 127,198 Bangladeshis were expected to perform Hajj this year, but only 126,205 will be able to do so.
Earlier, the Saudi Arabian civil aviation authority allotted 14 additional slots at Biman’s request for the rescheduled Hajj flights.
However, these slots coincide with the departure times for Dhaka-London flights. Biman has already reduced the number of weekly flights on Dhaka-London route to one from four to accommodate more Hajj flights. As of now, the national carrier was compelled to cancel 24 flights due to the continued shortage of Hajj pilgrims.
Biman has deployed several aircraft for the smooth operation of dedicated Hajj flights.