Thursday, June 01, 2017

Hike in air fare, drop in subsidy push up Haj cost

Mumbai: Haj pilgrimage this year is slated to be costlier by Rs 20,000 per person ostensibly due to hike in airfare and decrease in Haji subsidy, said the Haj Committee of India. From Rs 400 crore last year, the subsidy has reduced to Rs 200 crore this year. The Supreme Court has asked to end the subsidy by 2022.
For this year's Haj, scheduled in the first week of September, of the 1.7 lakh pilgrims from India, 1.25 lakh will travel through the Haj panel, while 45,000 will go through private tour operators (PTOs). However, there is no increase in the cost of Haj tour through PTOs. "The cost by PTOs range between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh per pilgrim," said Yusuf Ahmed Kherada of Al Khalid Tours and Travels, a major PTO.

"There are airlines which can quote lower price if a global tender is invited. But the government wants to bail out the loss-making Air India through Haj operations. Now that Haj subsidy is being reduced gradually, global tender will have to be invited so that poor Muslims can perform Haj," said Sohail Lokhandwala, former vice-chairman of Haj Committee. —Mohammed Wajihuddin.
01/06/17 Mohammed Wajihuddin/Times of India