Islamabad: The National Carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday announced flight operations and private Hajj fares for Hajj this year.

According to the PIA spokesperson, the fare for private Hajj pilgrims of the southern region will be from $870 to $1,180, while the fare for the northern region is $910 to $1,220.

According to the spokesman, the southern region includes Karachi, Quetta, Sukkur, Hyderabad, and the northern region includes Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan, and other cities.

The spokesman said that the Ministry of Religious Affairs will announce the fares for the pilgrims going under the official Hajj quota.

The fare of pilgrims under the official Hajj is expected to be Rs.310,000 to Rs.330,000.

PIA will use Boeing 777 and Airbus 320 for Hajj flight operations for Jeddah and Medina while PIA will continue Hajj flight operations from May 21 to August 2, during which 38,000 pilgrims are expected to travel.

Last week, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony decided to allocate a 25% special quota in the government’s Hajj Scheme for the pilgrims depositing their dues in US dollars, adding that they would be exempted from the balloting under the new Hajj policy.

The ministry said about 22,400 pilgrims would benefit from the ‘Sponsorship Scheme’ being introduced in the wake of the prevailing foreign exchange crisis in the country.

It has also increased the Hajj quota for private operators from 40-50%, which might be raised further.

The ministry is expected to charge Rs 1.1 million from each pilgrim under the government scheme, but expenses might rise to Rs 1.3 million in case of further depreciation of the rupee.

The Ministry of Finance indicated that it would not be able to arrange some $2 billion for the Hajj amid the foreign currency shortage. According to sources, the Saudi government is also increasing the tax rate on Hajj by 18-20%

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