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24 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM
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Rise in plane fare for Hajj pilgrims ‘unethical’

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, Dhaka

The Hajj Agencies' Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) yesterday demanded a change in the recently-hiked airfare for the pilgrims. The apex body of the country’s Hajj agents also sought the prime minister’s intervention in this regard. “Even though the price of aviation fuel has decreased this year in the global market and no new charges or taxes have been imposed, the civil aviation and tourism ministry has fixed this year’s plane fare for Bangladeshi pilgrims at Tk. 1.40 lakh. This marks an increase of Tk. 12,000 per person. In doing so, they have bypassed the disagreement with the religious affairs ministry and HAAB. The decision is illogical and unethical,” HAAB president Shahadat Hossain Taslim said at a press conference held at the body’s Naya

Paltan office yesterday. He demanded that the plane fare be modified for dedicated Hajj flight passengers and scheduled flight passengers separately.

Taslim said although performance of Hajj is mandatory for solvent and able-bodied individuals, HAAB does not wish to misuse the money of a pilgrim. “The jet fuel price is now USD 0.58 per litre, down from USD 0.71 per litre last year. At the same time, other charges and taxes have not increased. Though the costs reduced by USD 0.13 per litre, the ministry has increased the plane fare by Tk. 12,000 per person instead of decreasing the price,” he added.

He also said that the state minister for religious affairs, Sheikh Md Abdullah, walked out of an inter-ministerial meeting held at the civil aviation ministry on Monday to register opposition to the ministry’s proposal to increase the air fare.

“They will not comply with the civil aviation ministry’s decision unless the plane fare is reduced. They will also not cooperate with the ministries to finalise the Hajj package this year until the decision is changed,” Taslim added.

If the current fare stands, Bangladeshi pilgrims will have to pay an additional Tk. 164.4 crore, which will go to Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines. The Saudi Arabian Airlines authority has not asked for the hike, but it will nevertheless receive an extra Tk. 82.20 crore following the fare increase.

The HAAB president said that although the state minister for civil aviation and tourism, Mahbub Ali, was flexible on the issue, the plane fare was increased because of the ministry’s senior secretary Md Mohibul Haque.

The civil aviation ministry had initially proposed that the plane fare for the pilgrims be fixed at Tk. 1.54 lakh this year. The fare was only Tk. 1.28 lakh in 2019. The ministry later bypassed opposition from the religious affairs ministry and HAAB to set the fare at Tk. 1.40 lakh this year. Taslim said that considering the overall situation and the current price of fuel, the airfare should be fixed at between Tk. 1 lakh and Tk. 1.10 lakh. On Wednesday, the state minister for religious affairs, Sheikh Md Abdullah, said his ministry was not satisfied with the civil aviation ministry’s decision. He said they were trying to work with the ministry to reduce the plane fare considering the suffering of the pilgrims.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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