KARACHI: For the first time in the country’s history, the national flag carrier — Pakistan International Airline (PIA) — will charge airfares in dollars from Haj pilgrims flying on a private scheme.
The airfares for the pilgrims from Southern region and Northern region are likely to remain in the range of $810 to $1,100 and $860 to $1,150 respectively. The airline had priced fares in dollars one and a half years ago, but given the pandemic restrictions, Muslims from across the world were not allowed to perform Haj for last two years.
The airline claimed that the fares in dollar would eliminate discrepancy as its tickets were also being bought internationally. However, PIA will charge the fixed amount of Rs181,000 for the return ticket from the pilgrims travelling on the government scheme.
The airline is expected to take around 14,000 pilgrims on government quota and around 16,000 private pilgrims during this Haj season. Pakistan has a quota of 81,000 pilgrims and normally the government takes 60 percent of the quota itself and allots the remaining to private operators.
Sources said the government has received few applications this year and only 37,000 pilgrims would go through the government scheme while the rest of the quota will be allotted to private operators.
Flights from Pakistan to Madinah and Jeddah for Haj operation were earlier planned to operate from May 31 to July 3. However, the Haj operation has been delayed for a week, as the government is yet to announce the Haj policy. The post-Haj operation would run from July 14 to August 13.
The government Haj policy determines the strength of people going through either government scheme or by private operators. It also determines pilgrims from each city and quota for airlines and private Haj operators.