As Saudi Arabia bans substandard airlines… Sierra Leone meets 2012 Hajj requirements
Saudi Arabia has announced the ban of a number of airlines from transporting pilgrims during the forthcoming Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj), a press statement from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) stated this week. (Photo: M S Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s Head of Hajj delegation)
The blacklisted airlines, according to the release, include those classified as “second category” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US and companies that have been banned from European skies.
GACA was also quick to say that: “These companies would be allowed to carry pilgrims only after rectifying the shortcomings listed by the European Aviation Safety Agency.”
The Civil Aviation body also urged all airlines to publish details of their Hajj schedule, including dates of arrival and departure and number of pilgrims.
Earlier, GACA also said punitive measures would be taken against airlines that fail to operate Hajj services as per schedule. According to the Al-Watan Arabic daily, the authority had sent circulars to all aviation companies warning them against penal action in case of failing to transport pilgrims and their baggage on schedule.
Meanwhile, the authority has vehemently warned operators of pilgrim flights against shipping in consumer goods and foodstuffs for sale at airport lounges. “Airlines that help people to convert airport lounges into a bazaar will face heavy fines,” GACA warned.
In a telephone interview last night, M S Kargbo, Special Assistant to His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, who also doubles as a senior member of the government’s National Hajj Coordinating Committee (NHCC) said: “Sierra Leone is all set for this year’s pilgrimage and has met all the Saudi Arabia Hajj Ministry’s requirements.”
The Hajj, considered the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, is an Islamic religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia’s holy land of Mecca, where the religion’s most sacred site, Kaaba is located. The Hajj is a religious duty that able-bodied Muslims perform at least once in their lifetime, if they have the means to do so.
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