Dhaka, Dec 11 (BDNEWS) - The first hajj flight carrying 274 pilgrims by Biman Bangladesh Airlines left Dhaka Sunday for Jeddah.
Prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia formally inaugurated the hajj flight at 11 am at the Zia International Airport (ZIA).
Among others, State minister for civil aviation and tourism Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, managing director of the Biman Mahmudur Rahman and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) chairman Air Commodore AKM Harun Chowdhury were present on the occasion.
Later, state minister Mirza Fakhrul at a press conference at the Biman headquarters at Balaka said the national flag carrier would ferry 2,621 ballottee pilgrims to Jeddah. Biman will conduct 86 flights to Jeddah and the same number of return flights. The hajj flights will be operated till January 4.
The return Hajj flights will be in operation from February 13 to 7, the press conference was told.
The Biman started its Hajj flight with the Biman's chartered 576-seater Boeing 747-300 of the Corsair that reached on Friday.
Besides, another chartered aircraft of the Air Luxor Airbus 330-300 with 387 seats is supposed to arrive at Dhaka on Monday.
When asked the Biman authorities, however, could not confirm when the third Boeing 747-300 would reach Dhaka.
Mirza Fakhrul said, we are trying heart and soul to hire airliners, adding, if not, the Biman will operate its own Hajj flights necessitating trimming down of several flights on the international routes but the Jeddah-bound flights will fly Hajj pilgrims on regular basis.
In reply to a query, Biman managing director Mahmudur Rahman admitted that those two airliners were not chartered as per the rules as they had to hire them on emergency basis but the board of directors of the Biman gave permission.
The press conference was told that the ballottee pilgrims deposited $ 950 each while the non-ballottee pilgrims paid $1050 per head. The number of non-ballottee Hajj pilgrims is 40,000.