City baggage check-in ensures smooth flow of Haj flights

Updated 04 January 2013
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City baggage check-in ensures smooth flow of Haj flights

JEDDAH: City check-in services provided by cargo firms during the last Haj season have been instrumental in enhancing comfort of pilgrims, reducing congestion at airports and ensuring smooth and on-time performance of Haj flights.
This has encouraged more airlines to extend such an innovative service to their pilgrims.
“We served 54,400 Indian Haj pilgrims carried by Air India in 2012. Our city check-in services helped our customer airlines operate their Haj flights smoothly,” said K.P. Abdul Salam of Alpha Cargo.
He said Alpha Cargo, which is an IATA certified agent, intends to expand its Haj check-in and cargo handling facilities in the coming years as part of its contribution in support of the Saudi government’s endeavors to improve services to the guests of God.
“Our aim is to become a dependable city check-in provider for Saudi aviation industry, especially during the Haj and Umrah pilgrim seasons. A number of reputed carriers have already shown interest in availing themselves of our services in the coming Haj season,” Salam said.
Indian pilgrims were happy over Alpha Cargo’s services during the last Haj season as the company picked up their bags from their hotels and apartments in Makkah and Madinah and submitted them at Air India’s check-in counters in airports prior their departure.
“Our staff members pick up bags of pilgrims right from their rooms in Makkah and Madinah. We ensure security and insurance until the baggage is delivered to the airline,” he said.
Salam claimed that his company was providing services to pilgrims in a professional way, meeting the expectations of passengers and airlines. “Our Haj service has contributed to reducing congestion at airports,” he added.
The service greatly helps pilgrims, especially the elderly, as they need not bother about their baggage. Many carriers are now interested in providing similar city check-in services to their pilgrims to avoid delays.
Salam advised pilgrims to authorize his company to transport their excess baggage as cargo before their departure from the Kingdom. “If pilgrims want to buy things in excess of the approved baggage, they need not worry. We can help them ship those things to their destinations through our cargo service,” he said.
Alpha extends air, sea freight, door to door, freight forwarding, transport, customs clearance, packing, insurance, city check-in, moving services and storage services through its offices in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.
Last year, Alpha deployed close to 150 additional workers and a similar number of trucks to handle pilgrim bags. “We also provide baggage packing services to pilgrims on request,” said Mohamed Hakeem, corporate manager.
The Indian Consulate General in Jeddah initiated the city check-in program to serve Indian pilgrims, Salam said, and thanked Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai for his support. Alpha Cargo’s service last year made a remarkable difference in Air India’s Haj operation as the Indian media described it as the most successful.
“Air India has successfully completed the Haj 2012. In fact, this has been one of the most successful operations ever by Air India,” the airline’s management said. “The introduction of advance city check-in was a major factor that contributed to the smooth operation.”
Asked about the company’s future plans, Salam said Alpha would soon introduce system-generated services that would enable host airlines to monitor baggage movement. “We’ll also establish an advanced X-ray system to check-in bags and cargos,” he added.


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Updated 20 June 2018
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Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.