PIA completes pre-Hajj operation

LAHORE (PPI): Pakistan International Airlines has completed the first phase of Hajj operation, taking the last pilgrimage flight from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia Thursday night, according to a report on Friday.

The pre-Hajj operation was culminated with the PIA flight operated from Karachi to Jeddah last night. About 61,467 pilgrims have flown to Saudi Arabia through 268 flights. Out of these, 41,000 pilgrims are performing Hajj on government scheme and 19,600 are private pilgrims.

The PIA pre-Hajj flights operation started on May 21 and completed on June 22. Direct flights were departed from Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Peshawar. From Sukkur, Rahim Yar Khan and Quetta, pilgrims flew to Jeddah via Karachi airport.

The on-time departure ratio of PIA Hajj flights was 94%. Out of 268 flights, 249 flights departed on time or shortly before time. During entire Hajj operation, only 19 flights were delayed due to various reasons.

The PIA CEO congratulated the concerned teams for the high ratio of timely departure. The national flag carrier will start the post-Hajj operation from July 2 and it will continue till August 2.

Over two million to perform Hajj: Enormous crowds of worshippers thronged Mallah, Islam’s holiest city, on Friday for the biggest Hajj pilgrimage in years, with more than two million expected to brave the scorching Saudi Arabian heat.

Pilgrims in white robes and sandals packed the ancient city, now dotted with luxury hotels and air-conditioned shopping malls, after flooding in on planes, buses and trains for the annual rites.

This year’s Hajj — one of the world’s biggest annual religious gatherings, with a tragic history of stampedes and other disasters — could break attendance records, officials said.