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Tue 13 Aug 2013 11:04 AM

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Saudi threatens to ban airlines who leave pilgrims without return flights

A new memo also bans airlines which are blacklisted by European authorities

Saudi threatens to ban airlines who leave pilgrims without return flights
Around 1.5 million Haj pilgrims come by air to visit the holy sites in the kingdom each year.

Saudi Arabia has threatened to ban airlines who transport pilgrims to the kingdom but do not provide them with return flights to their original countries, it was reported.

Under a memo issued by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), all airlines must submit a manifest of the names and full details of pilgrims travelling to the kingdom in advance, or fines will be imposed, sources told Arab News.

“Airliners should guarantee the return of pilgrims to their original countries,” the GACA said in a memo seen by the newspaper. “They should ensure pilgrims’ safety from the moment they arrive until their return to their home countries,” it added.

The report also said airlines which are blacklisted by the European Aviation Safety Agency will be prohibited from entering the country “unless the carrier proves it has taken the corrective measures to lift the ban.”

Around 1.5 million Haj pilgrims come by air to visit the holy sites in the kingdom each year.

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roy 6 years ago

That is very foolish decision. After all carrier is a carrier it has the responsibility of transportation. It is the responsibility of the one who gets visa issued or the or the one who issues visa to ensure that the visitor returns back. Any country issues looks into the credentials of the applicants and if they are satisfied they issue a visa. Moreover what ever the Saudis say, the whole activity of accepting pilgrims is their religious responsibility. Let saudis also know that the whole world knows that it is a of big commercial value to their nation. This is more of a religious tourism which they are getting without any peripheral investments.

Imtiaz Hussain 6 years ago

@Roy its the airlines responsibility to chk all requirements for travel one of which is to hold a return ticket if travelling on visit/tourist visa. ur comment tells that u have no idea of the millions spent on projects around the Holy Mosques & on the rail network invested by the Saudi govt to accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims.

Hani Suleiman 6 years ago

I believe here that the Saudi authorities are talking specifically about Charter operators (Airlines. The authorities have had experience with many of them where they bring in pilgrims and then fail to come back to pick them up for their journey back home! I agree with the Saudi authorities on this issue bearing in mind that when a passenger regardless of reason for travel fails to show up at the airport or has arrived late for check-in and/or boarding! Then airlines or operators should not be held responsible for the passenger’s mistake. As for safety, airlines can only be held responsible, while passenger is in the custody of the airline! And not from moment of arrival until their return!! My last comment…tying up approval for operators to land in KSA with European Aviation Safety Agency is a sign of lack of efficiency by the Saudi Authorities as KSA has excellent safety standards and Saudi standards should be taken under consideration.

Mujeeb Haroon 6 years ago


Here I would also wish to point out that Most of the Airlines feels uncomfort to transport one sided traffic. Before the Haj all passengers are arriving KSA, but almost no load for the airlines while leaving KSA. Similarly, after Haj, all airlines arrives almost empty to KSA to pick thier passengers as return flights.