KARACHI: Saudi authorities will provide immigration facilities at Karachi airport to over 16,000 Haj pilgrims under the Road to Makkah project, it emerged on Friday.

Under the project, the intending pilgrims would be exempted from the immigration process at Saudi airports.

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson said that the Haj flights under the Road to Makkah project will commence on May 9 and conclude on June 8.

Saudi staff will have access to eight counters and equipment in the international departure satellite area.

According to the spokesperson, the Road to Makkah project at Karachi airport is specifically for government-sponsored Haj pilgrims, totalling over 16,000.

Haj flights to start on 9th; eight counters set up in airport departure area for Saudi staff, meeting told

He said that an additional 15,000 pilgrims going to perform Haj through private operators from Karachi airport would not be part of the Road to Makkah project.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will operate five Haj flights from Sukkur and 21 flights from Quetta, all transiting through Karachi airport.

The spokesperson said that a meeting was held at Jinnah International Airport to discuss the arrangements for the upcoming Haj, focusing on the Road to Makkah project.

The meeting, chaired by Airport Manager Erfan Khan, was attended by airlines, ground handling agencies, border health services, the Airport Security Force, Federal Investigation Agency, Customs, and Anti-Narcotics Force.

The agencies at the Jinnah International Airport reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to providing complete support to the pilgrims.

The meeting focused on the procedures involved in the different stages of the Haj pilgrims’ stay at the airport, starting from their arrival at the terminal to their departure, following Saudi immigration formalities in the international departure satellite area.

The airport manager stressed the importance of providing a seamless experience for the pilgrims and urged all agencies to treat and welcome Haj pilgrims as honoured guests.

Deputy Airport Manager Saif-ur-Rehman requested airlines to submit their Haj flight schedules and aircraft types promptly for efficient parking bay planning.

Additionally, security personnel were encouraged to expedite luggage checks, the spokesperson said, adding that the collaborative efforts of the CAA and airport administration in managing the Road to Makkah project were commended by Director-Haj Karachi Imtiaz A. Shah.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2024

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