JEDDAH: Fouzia Khan
Published — Monday 9 September 2013
Last update 9 September 2013 6:43 am
Around 143,000 Pakistani pilgrims will perform Haj this year. Of these, approximately 67,000 will fly on 169 Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights, said Shahbaz Ahmed, PIA's country manager, at a press briefing Saturday.
The other 76,000 Pakistani pilgrims will be transported by Saudia and Shaheen Airlines.
He explained that the first PIA Haj flight will arrive on Monday morning from Islamabad. PIA Haj flights will all operate Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft.
Ahmed also explained that a 747 flight will be on standby for any technical problem occurring during Haj operations. The airline will also hire 220 staff members to serve pilgrims, of whom 40 to 50 will arrive on pre-Haj flights and 180 to 200 will come after Haj.
In addition, they will also deploy 250 loaders for post-Haj operations.
He said that PIA would operate up to 9 flights a day, of which six will fly pilgrims. The first Haj flight will arrive on Sept. 9 and the last on Oct. 9.
The first flight taking pilgrims back home will leave Jeddah on 14 Dhul Hijjah (Oct. 19). This year, PIA flights will arrive and return from Jeddah airport.
Ahmed also said that PIA would not allow more than 30 kg check-in baggage and 8 kg in hand carriage per pilgrim.
“Only 10 liters of Zamzam water will be allowed, which pilgrims will have to pack in a plastic bag and a box,” he emphasized.
Ahmed said he has no idea how PIA will follow the new rules under which there would not be any exit/re-entry paper for passengers, as the PIA system is not connected with Saudi passport control.