Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has earned a revenue of around Rs. 7-8 billion out of the anticipated Rs. 25 billion from Hajj operations. According to a local report, 82,000 people opted for the national carrier to travel for Hajj.
This year, around 250,000 people performed Hajj from Pakistan, with PIA flying more than 82,000 pilgrims. This is 20% more than the previous year when 68,000 people used the national airline, according to PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar.
PIA and Saudi Airlines are major players who cater to around 100,000 Pakistani pilgrims every year. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia divide the traffic for their airlines during Hajj season.
The remaining pilgrims opted for Airblue, Etihad, and Emirates among other airlines.
For airports situated in the northern region, i.e. Lahore and Islamabad, the ticket price ranged from Rs. 110,000 to Rs. 150,000 while tickets from Karachi airport cost between Rs. 100,000 – Rs. 105,000.
Due to the depreciation of the rupee, the Hajj package, which was arranged by the government, went up in cost to around Rs. 400,000 while private pilgrimage has no upper limit and can go up to Rs. 3 million, stated the report.
However, private hajj operators offered packages as small as one week or 15 days while the government arranged Hajj package is over a month-long. The private operators book late flights for their clients departing for Saudi Arabia and early returning flights to Pakistan.
These are peak times, therefore, airfares skyrocket making privately arranged pilgrimage expensive.
Last year during Hajj season, Shaheen Airlines was undergoing financial crunch due to which PIA and Airblue received a bigger share of passengers.