Aurangabad: Moaning that the cost of Haj travel will be substantially high if they choose Aurangabad embarkation point, more and more pilgrims from the city are opting Mumbai as the preferred location to start their religious journey.
“Cost of Hajj travels is going up by about 30 to 32,000 if I choose Aurangabad as the embarkation point. Hence I have opted Mumbai as the preferred location of my father’s haj flight”, Qurban Baig, whose parents are planning haj this year, says while talking to ummid.com.
Aurangabad is one of the 21 embarkation points in the country. Of them 03 are in Maharashtra. Besides Aurangabad, the other two hajj embarkation points in Maharashtra are Mumbai and Nagpur.
The Haj Committee of India started receiving Haj Application Form (HAF) for Hajj 2018 from November 15, 2017. The last date tom apply is December 07.
The Haj embarkation points are a blessing for the haj pilgrims as they help them in avoiding Aurangabad to Mumbai journey by road. But, the huge difference between the airfares from the two embarkation points is forcing them to choose Mumbai, instead of Aurangabad, as the embarkation point.
According to the JetAirways website, airfare from Aurangabad to Mumbai is Rs.2,267/- plus tax. MakeMyTrip on its website puts the airfare of the route as Rs.2,477/-. Air India, the official carrier for haj pilgrims, shows the airfare from Aurangabad to Mumbai as Rs.2,681/-
“It is therefore the difference 30 to 32,000 in the haj travel cost from Aurangabad is surprising”, Ateeque Shaikh. Shaikh helps and assist pilgrims in filling the haj application forms.
The Haj Committee of India charged about 82,000 to Haj pilgrims from Aurangabad embarkation point in 2016 as against 62,000 from Mumbai. Likewise, a Haj pilgrim paid Rs.1,10,000 for embarkation point in Srinagar in 2016 whereas charges for the same were Rs.73,000 from New Delhi.
Interestingly, Muslim community has objection over the airfare from Mumbai, New Delhi and other key embarkation points which they claim is two times more than the regular fare.
According to market sources, airfares in the peak season is maximum Rs.45,000 -meaning there is a huge difference between the actual airfare with what Air India is charging.
Stakeholders say there are two reasons why Air India airfares are too high. One, the validity of Air India tickets is one year as against to 03 months of a normal ticket. Second, the Haj Committee of India says, due to the arrangements and other offsite costs and for operating empty one-way flight.
However these claims fail to impress the pilgrims.
“What is the logic behind issuing air tickets of one year validity when the visa granted to pilgrims is just for three months?
“Moreover, the cost of haj arrangement is should not be included in the airfare as Haj Committee of India charges from the pilgrims extra amount for that”, Altaf Ahmed, who is applying for haj since last 04 years, said.
According to ummid.com earlier report, to manage processing expenses the Haj Committee of India charge a sum of Rs 300/- from every applicant on account of "Application Processing Fees". In addition to this, the Haj Committee of India also charges a sum of Rs.1000/- from the pilgrims finalised after the draw or qurrah.
Out of Rs.1000/- collected from each pilgrim, Rs 600/- per haji is given to State/UT Haj Committees. This includes Rs.200/- per haji for the facilitation centres at different airports, Rs.150/- as handling charge, Rs.100/- for the compulsory Haj training and Rs.150/- for construction of Haj Houses in various states.