Hajj pilgrim dies while waiting to board plane back home

Minister for religious affairs says delays due to ‘excess baggage’.


Express November 15, 2011

JEDDAH: While Hajj flights returning from Jeddah continue to be inordinately delayed, a Pakistani pilgrim breathed his last while waiting to catch a flight back to Karachi late on Sunday night, Express 24/7 reported.

Abdur Rehman was scheduled to board PK-2010 with other pilgrims who were going to return to Karachi after performing Hajj.

However, like other Hajj flights, the flight was subjected to a delay of several hours. Rehman died at the airport while waiting to board.

According to a Pakistan International Airlines spokesperson, the deceased pilgrim’s body is in the custody of Saudi officials. It will be handed over to the Pakistani embassy after official documentation.

Delays continue

Flight PK- 2508 carrying pilgrims from Jeddah to Islamabad reached after a delay of more than five hours.

Flights coming to Lahore experienced the same fate, with two planes returning eight and 11 hours late respectively.

No VIP treatment

Even VIPs faced the brunt of waiting for hours to get home, as citizens and parliamentarians alike were on delayed flights. At the Karachi airport, a special Hajj flight carrying 65 lawmakers landed after a delay of eight hours. Talking to the media at the airport, most parliamentarians lamented the provision of poor services to citizens.

They said the flight was delayed “despite the presence of such a large number of parliamentarians”. They also pointed out that there was a major language barrier at PIA terminals at Saudi airports.

‘Delay because of excessive luggage’

On the other hand, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Khursheed Shah defended the national flag carrier, blaming the delayed flights on excessive luggage.

Talking to media, he added that the extra baggage was purely a passenger-created problem.

He also pointed out that the same issue had marred the services of 36 international airlines involved in Hajj operations.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th,  2011.

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