ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will start flying pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from August 4 for this year’s Hajj.
The national flag carrier on Thursday announced its flight schedule for this year’s Hajj during which it hopes to fly as many as 50,000 pilgrims, or around a third of all Pakistani pilgrims who will travel to Saudi Arabia.
Together, Shaheen, Airblue and Saudi national carrier will transport over 90,000 pilgrims.
PIA said the month-long pre-Hajj operation, of taking pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, will commence from August 4 when the first flight will take off from Islamabad. The operation will end on September 4, said PIA’s top spokesperson Danyal Gilani in a statement.
Similarly, the post-Hajj operation, of bringing pilgrims back home, is expected to start immediately after Hajj from September 17 and will last till October 17.
“Our preparations are complete. We were waiting for the announcement of the schedule (of PIA),” Noor Zaman, a spokesperson for the religious affairs ministry told The Express Tribune.
This year, Zaman said, four airlines will ferry pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan including the state-owned carrier PIA.
Two local private airlines, Shaheen Air and Airblue, will also be flying pilgrims. Saudi Arabian Airlines is the fourth carrier.