The first Hajj flight of the year left Dhaka for Saudi Arabia this morning. A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight took off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 7:15 a.m. State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali and State Minister for Religious Affairs Advocate Sheikh Md Abdullah were present at the airport to see off the pilgrims, local media reported.
Some 1,27,198 pilgrims from Bangladesh are set to perform Hajj this year. Biman will carry 63,599 passengers, which is about half of the number of total Hajj pilgrims. The remaining pilgrims will be flown by Saudi Airlines.
This year for the first time, the immigration formalities of more than half of Bangladeshi pilgrims are being completed in Dhaka.
Biman will operate 189 pre-Hajj flights - 157 dedicated and 32 scheduled flights - from today till Aug 5, and 176 post-Hajj flights - 147 dedicated and 29 scheduled flights - from Aug 17 to Sep 15 by its own four Boeing 777-300 ER.
Apart from Dhaka, 19 Hajj flights will be operated from Chattogram while three from Sylhet.