Pre-Hajj operations from Pakistan were completed successfully as three airlines transported about 136,000 Hajj Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Around 43,000 pilgrims were carried by Gulf and Saudi airlines.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) gave permission to 3 Pakistani airlines to operate special Hajj flights from different destinations of Pakistan to Jeddah and Medina.
National carriers which operated the special Hajj flights included:
- Pakistan International Airlines (PIA),
- Shaheen Air International (SAI)
- Air Blue.
This year Saudi authorities allowed 179,210 Pakistanis to travel for Hajj. Last year the Hajj quota was reserved at 143,368.
Pakistani airlines operated more than 600 flights to accommodate about 136,000 pilgrims in pre-Hajj operations.
PIA’s pre-Hajj operation lasted 32 days. During this time the national flag carrier operated 320 special flights to Hejaz e Muqadas. In these flights 52,000 pilgrims traveled to Jeddah and Medina.
PIA carried 17,615 pilgrims from Karachi, 10,882 from Islamabad, 10,610 from Lahore, 7,601 Peshawar, 3,923 Sialkot and 445 from Faisalabad,
The PIA management deputed special staff at Jeddah and Medina airports to facilitate the pilgrims.
Furthermore, a PIA spokesperson claimed that the airline’s special flight departures were on time.
Shaheen Air International
Shaheen Air International (SAI) in its pre-Hajj operations, transported around 49,000 pilgrims to Jeddah and Medina.
The pre-Hajj operations began on July 24, 2017 in which the airline operated 217 flights from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Quetta and Multan.
During this time span, all SAI flights achieved on time performance (OTP) and flew a mix of pilgrims flying under the Government Hajj scheme and on private Hajj packages.
Airblue transported about 30,000 plus pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as part of its pre-Hajj operations.
For pre-Hajj operations Airblue operated 45 extra sections and 117 scheduled flights to accommodate Hajj pilgrims. A total of 162 flights were operated during pre-Hajj operations.
Gulf carriers also accommodated more than 43,000 Hajj pilgrims. Saudi Arabian Airline also provided direct flights to Jeddah and Medina.
Under Pakistani and Saudi governments’ agreement, national carriers of both countries had the first right to refusal for Hajj operations. Saudi Arabian Airline operated some extra flights for pilgrims as well.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) carried Hajj Pilgrims from different airports of Pakistan, taking them to Saudi Arabia via Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Due to a flying ban, Qatar Airways was not able to carry any pilgrims this time around.