Even as private airliner SpiceJet will be handling Hajj operations from Srinagar for the first time ever during forthcoming annual pilgrimage, Divisional Administration, Kashmir, has recently cautioned airport authorities to ensure that Hajj flights scheduled to depart from July 4 are as per scheduled time.
As per an official, in a recent meeting attended by different stakeholders, chaired by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmed Khan, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been asked to closely co-ordinate with SpiceJet for flight operations.
The delays in departures and arrivals of many Hajj flights during previous years had caused inconvenience to pilgrims while as the peak Umrah season this year was also not spared by delays due to inclement weather and snowfall. However, authorities say all arrangements have been put in place to make sure that flights leaving for Makkah and Madina leave as per scheduled time. “Proper coordination with the airlines must be maintained to avoid either delayed departures or arrivals as was experienced during Hajj 2018,” read minutes of the meeting.
A local representative of SpiceJet wishing anonymity told Greater Kashmir the airline is expecting to maintain punctuality even though it is for the first time SpiceJet is single-handedly handling the Hajj operations of almost 11,600 Hajis from Jammu and Kashmir. He said Hajj operations from Indore and Bhopal led by SpiceJet during last few years were “quite smooth and on-time”.
“In past we operated some Hajj flights from the Valley in 2011 but this is for the first time we are handling the operations all by ourselves. The fact that SpiceJet now operates flights to Medina and Riyadh from various cities in India shows that the airline has grown by leaps and bounds,” the official said. He said there would be 2 daily Hajj flights from July 4-20 after which four daily Hajj flights will depart from Srinagar.
When contacted Hajj officer Muhammad Maqbool told Greater Kashmir it would be for the first time after 4 years that flights of some of the intending pilgrims from the Valley shall travel to Makkah while many others will be travelling to Medina.
The Hajj officer said in order to ensure that family members accompanying Hajis to Hajj House, Srinagar don’t suffer any inconvenience, designated car parking is being set-up outside Bemina Hajj house.
Meanwhile, after facing an inordinate delay, vaccination of intending Hajjis has kick-started now.