Airfare for Bangladesh 2022 hajj pilgrims goes up by 20 percent

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Hajj flights likely to start on 31 May from Dhaka


Hajj pilgrims from Bangladesh will have to count Tk12,000 more in airfare compared to the pre-pandemic level.


“The fare for the round-trip to Saudi Arabia will be Tk1.4 lakh. Earlier in 2019, the airfare for hajj pilgrims was Tk1.28 lakh,” Mahbub Ali, state minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, said at the Bangladesh Secretariat following a meeting with stakeholders on Wednesday.


“Due to the increasing fuel prices, the fare is a little high yet we have tried to keep the rate low keeping the pilgrims in mind,” he added.


He said hajj flights are likely to start on 31 May from Dhaka.


This year, 31,000 people will travel on 75 flights run by Biman Bangladesh Airlines and the rest of the pilgrims will be carried by Saudia Airlines.


Following a two-year gap due to Covid-19 restrictions, as many as 57,856 pilgrims from Bangladesh will be allowed to perform hajj this year, according to the State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan.


National flag carrier Biman and its Saudi Arabian counterpart Saudia are the only two airlines transporting pilgrims from Dhaka since 2012 as per the hajj agreement signed between the two countries.


The demand for allowing the third carrier for operating hajj flights is getting deeper as the existing system of ferrying the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia has been costing hajis more and is creating a duopoly.


The two companies have enjoyed this duopoly over the hajj flights, charging exorbitant fares from pilgrims, said M Shahadat Hossain Taslim, president of the Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (Haab).


“The government must allow a third carrier to improve hajj management,” he said, adding that it is allowed in different neighbouring countries such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.


Due to the pandemic, no pilgrim from Bangladesh was allowed to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2020 and 2021.


Last year, the kingdom limited the annual haj, one of Islam’s five main pillars, to 60,000 domestic participants, compared to 25 lakh in the pre-pandemic period.


Had it not been for Covid, more than 1.37 lakh people from Bangladesh could have performed hajj in 2020.


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