There has been strong criticism over the price of air tickets to and from Saudi Arabia for this year’s Haj pilgrims in Bangladesh, and the overall increase in the cost of Haj has led to fewer registrations air fare for Hajj.
The Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAB) and the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh or Atab say the air fares have been fixed so high that it is an ‘injustice’ according to them.
As a result, even after extending the registration time several times, there is not much response. The leaders of the two organizations believe that this situation has arisen due to the increase in the price of Hajj packages due to abnormal airfares.
However, Biman Bangladesh Airlines says that the air fare has been fixed considering the overall situation and costs so that Biman air fare for Hajj will not make a profit but avoid losses.
Incidentally, the airfare for this year’s Hajj package has been fixed at Tk 1 lakh 97 thousand 997. Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudia Airlines mainly carry the Hajj passengers of Bangladesh.
An aviation analyst has alleged that the fares have been skyrocketed to give business opportunities to these two organizations by holding Haj pilgrims hostage.
Travel agencies say that the cost of traveling to Saudi Arabia at this moment is a maximum of one lakh taka, despite the difference between airlines.
Return tickets are available within 70-80 thousand rupees in Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah or for any other reason at other times of the year.
However, there are complaints that some airlines suddenly increase the prices when the number of passengers going to the Middle East increases.
Many concerned complain that Biman is using the Hajj season to cut losses at other times of the year.
How much has the rent actually increased air fare for Hajj ?
Biman’s managing director and chief executive officer Shafiul Azim told BBC Bangla that the fare for this year was initially offered at Tk 200,000, but later considering the Hajj passengers, it was reduced to Tk 198,000.
Earlier in 2017 this rent was 1 lakh 18 thousand taka, in 2018 and 2019 it was 1 lakh 28 thousand taka, in 2020 it was 1 lakh 38 thousand taka, in 2022 it was 1 lakh 40 thousand taka.
No one from Bangladesh went for Hajj in 2021 due to Corona epidemic.And the rent for this year has been fixed at 1 lakh 97 thousand 997 taka. That is, the air fare has increased by about 60 thousand taka this year compared to last year.
Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) president SN Mair fare for Hajjanzoor Morshed Mahbub said that usually the fare for Haj passengers is determined by adding 50/60 percent to the regular fare due to various expenses.
“But much higher fares have been fixed this year. We do not agree with such a hike in rent,” he told BBC Bangla.
Incidentally, usually Biman raises a proposal regarding fares for air fare for Hajj passengers to the National Committee. The committee then reviews it and finalizes a rental amount.
At the beginning of this year, Biman proposed to set the fare at Tk 200,000. Later, the National Committee reduced it to Tk 1,98,000.air fare for HajjAt the beginning of this year, Biman proposed to set the fare at Tk 200,000. Later, the National Committee reduced it to Tk 1,98,000.
Hajj is scheduled to be held on June 27 this year. According to the agreement, 1 lakh 27 thousand 198 people from Bangladesh can go for Hajj this year.
Out of this, 15,000 people will go for Hajj under government management and 1,12,198 people will go for Hajj under private management.air fare for HajjOut of this, 15,000 people will go for Hajj under government management and 1,12,198 people will go for Hajj under private management.
Why is the fare increased during Hajj?
The Hajj season is considered a “peak time” for flights. Apart from this, eight Boeings will only carry Hajj passengers this year.
As a result, flights on several routes may be reduced or stopped. Apart from this, the increase in the price of jet fuel and the dollar is also being presented as an argument for the increase in air fares.
Biman’s managing director and chief executive officer Shafiul Azim says that the cost of air travel has also increased due to the increase in taxes in many areas. Besides, there is a lot of air cost in Ashkona Haji Camp.
“All in all, we think that the cost that has been determined this time is absolutely minimum. We have not done anything to make a profit but to avoid losses at the lowest possible level,” he said.
According to him, the Hajj package is finalized by determining the total expenses in sixteen categories. He thinks that the price of Hajj package has increased a lot due to the increase in expenses in all categories.
“Aviation National Corporation. We also have a responsibility towards Haj pilgrims. But everyone knows the global situation. However, we have tried our best to make the fares reasonable,” said Mr. Azim
However, Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh does not agree with this statement of the aviation authority. Yakub Sharafati, the senior vice-president of the organization, says that a technical committee should review everything and fix the fare.
He thinks that if this is done, there will be no anger or dissatisfaction. “The rent that has been fixed is not reasonable in any way. An increase of 58,000 taka over last year is completely unreasonable”.air fare for HajjHe thinks that if this is done, there will be no anger or dissatisfaction. “The rent that has been fixed is not reasonable in any way. An increase of 58,000 taka over last year is completely unreasonable”.
On the other hand, Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) President SN Manjur Morshed Mahbub says that the fare that has been set will be unfair to the passengers.
“This year it has increased much more than the normal increase every year. This decision should be reconsidered,” he said.