More than 4,000 flights are scheduled to transport one million pilgrims back to their home countries within the next few weeks, said Khalid Al-Harbi, director of Haj services at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA), in Jeddah.
“There are 20 percent more departing flights than arriving flights,” he said. “This is due to the fact that thousands made an early arrival at the Madinah airport and will leave through Jeddah’s airport.”
Authorities operated about 80 regular and chartered flights to different parts of the world on Tuesday to transport pilgrims out of the country, according to officials.
Though the formal departure of pilgrims began on Tuesday, pilgrims from neighboring countries, such as Egypt and GCC states, began leaving from Monday evening.
Around 20,000 pilgrims from GCC states left early Tuesday. A total of 67 flights are set to leave on Wednesday, in addition to 40 other flights.
“Flight schedules, can, however, be changed or canceled,” he said.
Al-Harbi expected departing flights to gradually increase by Friday to reach 100 pilgrim-only flights daily and 40 regular flights.
“We have three runways at the Hajj terminal,” he said. “The longest runway was 3,600 meters, but the Civil Aviation Authority then extended it to 4,000 meters, enabling the runway to take two planes at a time.”
“We are striving to shuttle pilgrims to airports four hours ahead of time to make way for any unforeseen problems,” according to Abdulilahi Al-Jadah of the United Agents Office.
(Source: Arab News)