City baggage check-in ensures smooth flow of Haj flights

Updated 04 January 2013

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.

Hajj 2018: More than 2 million pilgrims begin journey of a lifetime

Updated 19 August 2018

Hajj 2018: More than 2 million pilgrims begin journey of a lifetime

  • Massive safety and security operation swings into action as annual Hajj begins
  • The Hajj is an unparalleled logistical operation, with statistics to match. The Saudi Ministry of Health alone has employed nearly 30,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and technicians to provide health care to the pilgrims

MAKKAH: The number of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia passed two million on Saturday, Saudi security chiefs said, as the country finished preparations for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to begin on Sunday.

A final tally will be announced at the beginning of Eid Al-Adha on Tuesday, said Interior Ministry security spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki.

The pilgrims have flown in from almost every country in the world, but all had a similar story to tell — this is the experience of a lifetime.

“This is the first time I have seen the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba. It is the best feeling of my life to be able to perform the Hajj,” said Hisham Mostafa, 50, an accountant from Aleppo who fled the war in Syria five years ago and now lives in Turkey.

Nayef Ahmed, 37, from Yemen, sold a plot of land to be able to afford to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. “Because of the war the cost was very high. But being here I feel comfort and peace and I pray to God for the war to end,” he said.

Najwa, 59, from Tunisia, said: “I came for Umrah in 2007 and today after 10 years of registering and waiting, I am here. I cannot describe the feeling. I cry every day.”

Over the next few days the pilgrims will retrace the steps of the Prophet Muhammad 14 centuries ago — and their safety and security are a Saudi priority.

“We will prevent any actions that are not part of the Hajj ritual and any act that may impact the safety of pilgrims or their ability to perform the rite,” Al-Turki said.

To ensure their safety, pilgrims will wear electronic identification bracelets, connected to GPS. “There is a comprehensive electronic agenda for every pilgrim and we have provided many apps that offer guidance,” said the Minister of Haj and Umrah, Mohammed Salih Bentin.

“We have a fleet of more than 18,000 buses, all of them linked to a control system that tracks their path.”

The Hajj is an unparalleled logistical operation, with statistics to match. The Saudi Ministry of Health alone has employed nearly 30,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and technicians to provide health care to the pilgrims.

The Saudi Red Crescent is operating 127 emergency centers, 361 ambulance cars and 20 emergency motorcycles, with nearly 2,000 staff on duty in Makkah and Madinah.

There will be 22 operational hospitals in Madinah and the holy sites, and 15 temporary emergency centers, supported by a fleet of nearly 90 ambulances and more than 650 paramedics.