DHAKA: Saudi Arabian Airlines “Saudia”, one of the designated carriers of hajj pilgrims, has been charging extra fare from the hajj pilgrims, the pilgrims and hajj agencies alleged.
Government’s blind eye towards the issue gave license to the monopolizing airliner to be engaged in “fare trade”.
Sources said regular ticket fare for Dhaka-Jeddah route of Saudia Airlines ranges US$ 700-800. During hajj season, the Airliner raises the fare to US$ 1200-1400.
Moreover, Saudia carries Bangladeshi pilgrims over regular flights instead of any special hajj flights. But, they take US $ 500 to 600 extra charge from each pilgrims, which is a burden for them.
The fare charged by the Biman Bangladesh Airlines is almost the same, but the national flag carrier carries pilgrims in special flights.
Shafiq Alam Mehedy, Acting Secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, told banglanews24.com.bd "We are trying our best to ensure that the pilgrims can fly at a minimum cost."
“We will discuss the issue of fare charged by the Saudia within a couple of days,” he said.
Ibrahim Bahar, President of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAB) said they raised the issue of the extra fare in an inter-ministerial meeting and demanded an immediate resolve.
The ticket fare must be brought at a acceptable range, he said adding that other airliners apart from Biman and Saudia should be would given the opportunity to carry pilgrims is necessary.
Jakiul Islam, Chief Executive Officer of Biman, however claimed that Biman’s charge was ‘logical’. He did not explain.
When contacted, Saudia Sales Manager Irfan Ahmed was reluctant to make any comment.
According to bilateral treaty, only Biman and Saudia can carry hajj pilgrims.
Despite repeated allegation raised by pilgrims over the irregularities of Saudia, the government gave cold-shoulder.
BDST: 1935 HRS, 2 AUGUST, 2010.