Krishna to flag off inaugural Hajj flight on Tuesday

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New Delhi, Oct.19 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna will flag off an inaugural Hajj flight from here on Tuesday.

The flight will take off from the Hajj Terminal at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at 9.30 a.m.

The Ministry of External Affairs has already issued an advisory for Hajj pilgrims for the prevention of epidemic swine flu while they fly to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The advisory restricts the pilgrims from sharing greetings in the form of shaking the hands and hugging, but mandatory religious habits are acceptable. The other activities which have been restricted by the advisory include spitting in public as well as use if medicines without prescription.

India is not the only country that will be flagging off Hajj-related travel in Asia.

Hajj is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world and is expected to fall between November 25-30 this year.

Most large Asian air carriers will operate flights to Jeddah and Medina in two phases with little variance: the arrival stage, from October 20 through November 21, and the departure stage, from December 1 to January 1, 2010, reports The Independent.

While India is flagging off its inaugural Hajj flight on October 20, Pakistan will begin its Hajj-related flights from Wednesday (October 21).

Pakistan International Airlines, the nation's flag carrier, will commence nearly 300 Hajj flights. The operations are expected to involve 126,000 passengers, according to the company.

Air India, India's flag carrier, had announced last week that it would operate nearly 300 extra flights from 20 Indian cities to Jeddah and Medina.

Bangladesh national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines expects nearly 40,000 Hajj passengers.

Indonesia's busiest private airline, Garuda, has announced this month that they have added aircraft to compete for Hajj flights.

The company has 14 wide-bodied aircraft dedicated to Hajj this year, which they hope will help them increase on the 259,000 Hajj passengers they shuttled in 2008.

Malaysian Airlines has added special Hajj flights, in combination with Emirates Airlines, to fly their pilgrims, according to the company.

On October 21 and 29, Thailand's pilgrims can utilize special flights to Saudi Arabia via a tie-up between Thai Airways and Malaysian Airlines. (ANI)

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