From Mohammad Ibrahim, in Makkah.
Director of Hajj services at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah, Khalid Al-Harbi, has said more than 4,000 flights are scheduled to transport one million pilgrims back to their home countries within the next few weeks, with Kaduna state already airlifting 500 pilgrims back home as at yesterday.
According to Al-Harbi, around 20,000 pilgrims from Gold cost countries GCC states left early Tuesday, saying a total of 67 flights left on Wednesday, in addition to 40 other flights.”There are 20 percent more
departing flights than arriving flights. This is due to the fact that thousands made an early arrival at the Madinah airport and will leave through Jeddah’s airport”, he stated.
It was gathered that the Kaduna state pilgrims airlifted were from Soba, Zaria and Kagarko local government areas of the state. The pilgrims departed Makkah to Jeddah yesterday around 12 pm saudi time and were expected to be airlifted by Saudi-based airline, Flyness around 9pm Saudi time.
Our reporter observed that the pilgrims were full of excitement over their return journey back home, as they entered the buses that would transport them to Makkah. Also, Saudi Arab newspaper quoted an
official, who said authorities operated about 80 regular and chartered flights to different parts of the world on Tuesday, to transport pilgrims out of the country.
Though he said formal departure of pilgrims began on Tuesday, pilgrims from neighboring countries, such as Egypt and GCC states, began leaving from Monday evening.
“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, 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.
“The Haj & Umrah Services United Agents Office, meanwhile, is operating 900 buses daily to shuttle pilgrims to KAIA. “Our office is 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.