DHAKA, Sept 17 (BSS) - This year's first hajj flight began today as Biman Bangladesh Airlines took off Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at about 5:30 am carrying first batch of Bangladesh pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister M Faruk Khan and State Minister for Religious Affairs Shahjahan Mia inaugurated the hajj flight at the airport.
Biman will continue hajj flight till October 20 while the return hajj flight to be operated from October 30 to November 29, Biman official sources said.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry 56,284 hajj pilgrims, nearly half of the total 112,568 hajj pilgrims of this year. This year 5,143 more pilgrims from the previous year's 107,425 will perform hajj from the country, official sources said.
Of the pilgrims, only 2,965 will perform hajj under government management while the rest under private arrangement.
Biman has created a capacity of 58,500 against its target of 56,284 to conduct smooth hajj flight operation this year. Out of 58,500 hajj pilgrims, Biman would carry 53,000 devotees by designated hajj flights and others by regular flights.
Apart form the national flag carrier, Saudia Airlines and NAS Air will carry 40,000 and 16,000 pilgrims respectively out of this year's record 112,568 hajj pilgrims.
Saudi Arabian Airlines will start operating hajj flights on September 21 and continue till October 22. The return flights of Saudi Airlines will begin on October 30 and continue till November 30.
Meanwhile, NAS Airlines will begin its hajj flights today and continue till October 19. The return flights of the airlines will start on October 30 and continue till November 28.
Biman has taken lease a 747-400 Boeing Aircraft with a 582 capacity of pilgrims. Apart from the leased aircraft, Biman will deploy its four own aircraft - two 777-300 ER -- with a capacity of 419 and two DC-10 with a capacity of 314 passengers.
Biman airlines will operate 43 hajj flights by the leased 747-400 aircrafts and 67 flights by two 777-300 ER where five dedicated hajj flights will be operated from Chittagong.
This year no hajj pilgrims would have to carry holy Jam Jam water as Biman Bangladesh airlines will provide them 10 liters of Jam Jam water each upon their returned home from Saudi Arabia.