In a first: PIA to charge airfare in dollars from private Hajj pilgrims

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The Pakistan International Airline (PIA), for the first time in its history, will charge airfare in US dollars from Hajj pilgrims flying on a private scheme, Tuesday.

For pilgrims from the Southern region and Northern region, the airfares are likely to remain in the range of $810 to $1,100 and $860 to $1,150, respectively.

It is worth mentioning that the national carrier had priced fares in dollars 1.5 years ago, but given the pandemic restrictions, Muslims from across the world were not allowed to perform Hajj for the last two years.

The airline claimed that fares in dollars would eliminate discrepancy as its tickets were also being bought internationally. However, for the return ticket for the pilgrims travelling on the government scheme, the PIA will charge a fixed amount of Rs181,000.

The airline is expected to take around 14,000 pilgrims on government quota and around 16,000 private pilgrims during this Hajj season. Pakistan has a quota of 81,000 pilgrims and normally the government takes 60% of the quota itself and allots the remaining to private operators.

Sources said the government has received few applications this year and only 37,000 pilgrims would go through the government scheme while the rest of the quota will be allotted to private operators.

Flights from Pakistan to Madinah and Jeddah for Hajj operation were earlier planned to operate from May 31 to July 3. However, the Hajj operation has been delayed for a week, as the government is yet to announce the Hajj policy. The post-Hajj operation would run from July 14 to August 13.

The government Hajj policy determines the strength of people going through either government schemes or private operators. It also determines pilgrims from each city and quota for airlines and private Hajj operators.