Shafiul Azim, the managing director of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, says the flag carrier has kept the fares for its Hajj flights as low as possible, in the face of widespread criticism over a marked increase in its ticket prices for the annual Islamic pilgrimage amid rising inflation.
Noting that the basic fare has risen 15.5 percent from last year, Azim said it was "not possible to reduce the prices any further".
The new rate accounts for the increase in some of the ancillary expenses for the airline, including higher fuel costs and airport tax, he explained. The rising value of the US dollar makes the fares seem more inflated, according to Azim.
Biman will start operating Hajj flights to Saudi Arabia on May 21, Azim told reporters on Sunday.
Return flights will begin on Aug 2. As many as 159 flights will take pilgrims to the Gulf kingdom, while another 152 have been designated for the return trip.
Pilgrims will complete the immigration process at the Ashkona Hajj Camp.
Privately-run Hajj travel agencies have set the minimum price for this year’s pilgrimage package at Tk 672,618 per person, nearly Tk 150,000 up from the previous year.
The rate did not include the cost of qurbani, the animal sacrifice ritual. Each pilgrim will have to carry the money to pay for the ritual themselves.
The minimum price for last year’s pilgrimage package under the privately run Hajj travel agencies was set at Tk 522,744 per person.
The government’s package will cost Tk 683,018.