Saudia – the Saudi Arabian Airlines – will operate Hajj services from Kochi Airport this year. This is based on an order of India’s Civil Aviation Ministry allotting 10 airports in the country to various airlines to carry Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and back.
Apart from Kerala, Hajj pilgrims from Tamil Nadu, Lakhadweep, Andaman and Puducherry will use the Kochi Airport to make their pilgrimage. As per the Ministry’s order, Kochi is included in the first list of airports taking pilgrims to Medina. From Kochi, pilgrims can travel to Medina from May 31 to June 16. After the rituals, they can return between July 14 and August 13.
Aircraft such as Boeing 747-400 and 777-300 would be utilized for the Hajj services. However, a final decision on travel dates and departure times are yet to be decided. After finalizing these details, Saudia would inform the Hajj Committee.
The Central Government had invited bids to transport 7,783 Hajj pilgrims from Kochi. Till now, 7,037 pilgrims have been selected for the trip. They include 5,274 from Kerala, 1,434 from Tamil Nadu, 113 from Andaman, 162 from Lakshadweep and 54 from Puducherry. However, 7,783 seats have been allotted to Kochi to include seats which are likely to fall vacant in other states.