Uniform structure: Nawaz orders PIA to reduce fares for pilgrims, says official

Decision taken in view of disparity among rates charged by different airlines.


Hasnaat Malik June 28, 2014

ISLAMABAD:


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the national flag carrier to reduce its airfare for Hajj pilgrims, a senior official in the religious affairs ministry told The Express Tribune.


The official said the ministry had received airfare details for pilgrims from three airlines.

“PIA is charging Rs107,000 for the South region and Rs122, 000 for North region. On the other hand, Shaheen Airline International is charging Rs103,500 for South and Rs116,000 for North while Saudi Arabian Airlines is taking Rs97,700 and Rs107,700 for South and North [regions], respectively,” he said.

In view of the disparity in airfares, PM Nawaz has asked PIA to reduce its fares for pilgrims, he added.  Separately, Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood submitted the Hajj Policy 2014 in the Supreme Court on behalf of the religious affairs ministry.

According to the new policy, since the number of seats in each airline would be limited and Saudi Arabian Airlines would only operate from four points of departure – Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar – therefore, the principle of ‘First Come, First Served’ would be applied in case of having excess applications for an airline from its allocated business capacity.

Flight operations will be started from September and continue till November, it said.

The Hajj policy states that in pursuance of the Revised Air Service Agreement (ASA) between the government of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed in 2011, 50% of the government Hujjaj would be airlifted by Pakistani air carriers while the remaining would be airlifted by Saudi Arabian Airlines.

According to the policy, the ministry had faced prolonged litigation in the superior courts by the private limited companies over the allocation of Hajj quota. Therefore, in compliance of the Supreme Court’s August 27, 2013 order, the ministry has now allocated the available Hajj Quota to 19 newly enrolled companies purely on merit.

The policy says Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) shall sign a Service Provider Agreement (SPA) with the ministry on a stamp paper of Rs100. “Any violation of the SPA by the HGO, may result in permanent ban on HGO or its suspension for a term of one to three years,” it says.

The Hajj policy also informs about Hajj Medical Mission (HMM) that comprises a contingent of doctors, paramedics and ancillary staff drawn from Pakistan armed forces and federal/ provincial health departments. It says HMM shall be deputed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for providing medical cover to the pilgrims and provide one doctor for 1,000 pilgrims and two paramedics against one doctor.

The policy also states that the experience in Hajj 2013 have revealed that welfare staff, who can communicate in Arabic language with Saudi agencies are more helpful to the pilgrims.

“In Hajj 2013, such staff was hired but due to some change in the Iqama issues as notified by Saudi government, it is apprehended that during Hajj 2014, the required number of staff may not be available for hiring by Pakistan Hajj Office. The Pakistan Hajj Office would hire local assistants of Pakistani origin as per its requirement and in line with Saudi Taleemat,” it says.

The policy says that more than 300 government officials would be deputed to Saudi Arabia for facilitating the pilgrims.

“The ministry has developed and launched an electronic monitoring system with technical support of Punjab IT to entertain pilgrims’ complaints. In 2013, more than 10,000 inquiries and complaints were registered through this system,” the policy document says.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2014.

COMMENTS (13)

javed | 8 years ago | Reply

Political meddling in day to day affairs of an airline. This is a serious crime.

haroon | 8 years ago | Reply

This government runs on gimmicks and here is another one by our Prime Minister.

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