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Wed 17 Oct 2007 12:35 AM

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Airline to blame for stranded pilgrims

Alexandria Airline's failure to fly 8,000 Egyptian pilgrims home down to being new to business, source says.

The 8,000 pilgrims stranded in Jeddah are the victims of an airline being ‘new to the business’ a source said.

The unnamed source at Alexandria Airline told Arab News the recently-formed airline was unable to fly home all of the 16,000 pilgrims it flew into the Kingdom on its two planes devoted to the route.

The airline refused to operate more flights because of a disagreement over fares, Arab News reported. Saudi civil aviation authorities had allowed the carrier to transport pilgrims in order to end the usual difficulties faced on the return journey.

A source told the newspaper progress was slow for pilgrims waiting for space on ferries at the Jeddah Islamic Port, although black market tickets had almost disappeared and that prices had returned to normal.

EgyptAir flew 268 passengers home late Sunday, however at least 8,000 are still waiting for flights and boats home, Arab news said.

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