PESHAWAR: The first flight to bring back the pilgrims after performing hajj landed at the Bacha Khan International Airport on Monday. The Saudi Airlines landed at the Bacha Khan International Airport at 4:40pm, bringing back 252 pilgrims.
A simple ceremony was held at the airport to welcome the returning pilgrims where they were served tea and biscuits. Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri was the chief guest on the occasion.
Deputy Airport Manager and Chief Operating Officer Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Obaidur Rehman Abbasi, Director Hajj, Shakeel Sethi, other officials of CAA, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Bacha Khan International Airport (BKIA) were also present on the occasion. They welcomed the returning Hajis and presented them with floral bouquets and garlanded them upon arrival at the airport.
Speaking on the occasion, Noorul Haq Qadri said that proper arrangements were made to ensure quality services to pilgrims. He was satisfied with pre and post-Hajj flight operations of the CAA.
The minister said all the related facilities had been provided to the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia who were performing Hajj under the government scheme. He said he had resumed the charge of the office just a few days ago and vowed to ensure improved facilities to the returning Hajis. The other flight of Airblue, which was scheduled to land at the airport, was diverted to the newly constructed Islamabad Airport. An airport official said that the flight was diverted to Islamabad as the night flight operation had been suspended for security reasons since long.
The Airblue had flown the first batch of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on July 14.
The Hajj flights operation was successfully completed on August 15 when the last flight had taken the intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Around 30,000 pilgrims from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa went to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj this year. The returning pilgrims were allowed to go home directly from the airport as per the previous decision of the CAA.
The CAA had also decided to allow a limited number of people to receive their relatives at the airport due to ongoing development work there. The CCA officials had urged the people not to bring more than one vehicle at the airport to receive the Hajis to avoid inconvenience. As many as 18,000 pilgrims from KP performed Hajj under the government scheme and 12,000 people under private schemes.
Earlier, the minister chaired a high-level meeting at the airport. The officials of CAA briefed the minister about the pre and post-Hajj flights' operations.
They also informed the minister about the ongoing expansion work at the airport. Noorul Haq Qadri expressed satisfaction at the performance of the CAA and arrangements to facilitate the returning Hajis at the airport. The minister said that an inquiry would be conducted about the death of Pakistani pilgrims in Mina a few days ago.