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Cap on pilgrim numbers costs Indonesian govt dearly

Indonesia has incurred losses of SR200 million for this year's Haj due to the 20-percent reduction in the quota of Haj pilgrims.
There were previously 211,00 registered pilgrims, of whom only 168,000 can now perform the pilgrimage.
Financial losses were sustained due to advance payments being made for accommodation and other logistical services for the original number of pilgrims.
This was revealed to Arab News by Syairozi Dimyathi, Indonesia's Haj consul, on Sunday.
Dimyathi said that the Indonesian government is fully engaged in Haj operations for its pilgrims, who are scheduled to arrive in Jeddah and Madinah from Tuesday.
He said that the first flight of Indonesian pilgrims will arrive from Jakarta to Jeddah on Tuesday and that another flight from Megan in Samutra Island will arrive in Madinah on the same day.
These pilgrims are finally being able to perform the Haj pilgrimage after waiting for seven to 10 years.
He said that 112,688 pilgrims would be transported by the national flag carrier, Garuda, and the remainder by Saudi Arabian Airlines.
Garuda will operate 295 flights from 10 embarkation points across different parts of the country. He said that 14 aircraft commissioned by Garuda for the transportation of pilgrims include 10 Airbus aircraft, three Boeing 747 and one Boeing 777.
The Indonesian consul said that his government is considering purchasing aircraft exclusively for the transportation of Haj pilgrims.
Syairozi also said that 155,000 pilgrims will perform Haj through the government's Haj committee, while 13,000 pilgrims have opted to perform the pilrimage through private tour operators.
The majority of pilgrims are women from the Java Island.
He also said that 3,250 personnel from various ministries, including the medical and health ministries, are being deployed by Jakarta to assist the pilgrims during Haj.
The consul said that Indonesia plans to use eight to 10 returning empty Garuda aircraft to repatriate stranded Indonesian nationals.

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