By Rafiq Vayani
DUBAI: Emirates will be operating extra flights to Jeddah to help facilitate travel for thousands of pilgrims this year heading to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Hajj.
Emirates will be operating 45 additional flights to Jeddah and 12 additional flights to Medina from 17 August until 11 September to help serve the 2 million pilgrims expected to travel to the Holy City of Mecca during Hajj this year. These services will run in parallel with Emirates’ regularly scheduled services to Jeddah. The airline will also be operating its A380 to Medina which will also support the increased demand during this period.
The additional services are available to travellers holding a valid Hajj visa.
This year, top inbound destinations Emirates is expecting Hajj pilgrims to come from are Yangon, Manchester, Mauritius, Jakarta, Karachi, Lagos and Nairobi.
Adil Al Ghaith Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Gulf, Middle East and Iran said: “Travelling for Hajj is a unique experience for Muslims around the world, and we expect over 20,000 pilgrims to travel with us this year. With a sizeable increase in demand for air travel during this period, Emirates is helping to make the journey more seamless for the scores of pilgrims making their way to the Holy City of Mecca. Whether it’s in the air or on the ground, Emirates aims to provide all its customers with the best experience in line with their faith, particularly at this significant time and important journey.”
On the ground, Emirates has appointed a dedicated group of airport staff to seamlessly facilitate the passenger ground experience for Hajj. In addition, dedicated check-in counters have been set up for Hajj passengers in Dubai.
In the air, several initiatives have been planned in keeping with the values and traditions that pilgrims uphold when travelling for Hajj. Extra provisions will be made to accommodate Hajj traveller needs such as performing ablutions, advising passengers about Al Miqat and Ihram (the phase when pilgrims enter a state of sanctity) and other arrangements that will help ease their journey. Emirates’ award winning ice system will also feature a special Hajj video that covers safety, Hajj formalities and information about performing the Hajj pilgrimage. Pilgrims will also be able to tune into the Holy Quran channel.
On flights from Jeddah, Hajj passengers can bring up to 5 litres of holy water (Zamzam) which will be placed in special areas in the cargo hold. As with all Emirates flights, Hajj passengers will enjoy extra generous Emirates baggage allowance of up to 35kg in Economy Class, 40kg in Business Class and 50kg in First Class.