Chandy flags off first Haj flight from Kerala
Trivandrum - The first flight carrying 340 pilgrims took off from the airport at 1.45pm. A volunteer accompanied the pilgrims.
The Haj pilgrimage from Kerala took off on Wednesday with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy flagging off the first flight to Saudi Arabia from the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbaserry.
The first flight carrying 340 pilgrims took off from the airport at 1.45pm. A volunteer accompanied the pilgrims. Haj Committee Chairman Kottumala Bappu Musliyar said they will be sending one volunteer each on every flight.
The all-India strike called by trade unions on Wednesday did not affect the pilgrimage as the organisers of the strike had exempted the vehicles carrying pilgrims. The Kerala Haj Welfare Forum had arranged buses to take the pilgrims from Calicut to the Cochin airport.
The Haj services were shifted from Karipur airport to Cochin this year following the runway re-carpeting work being held at the airport at Calicut. The Haj Welfare Forum will be running daily bus services to Cochin in the morning till September 16 for the benefit of pilgrims from the northern parts of the state.
Forum general secretary P T Imbichi Koya said that more than 75 per cent of the pilgrims from the state are from the northern districts. This is the first time in 15 years that the Haj camp is being shifted from Calicut to Cochin.
As many as 6,302 pilgrims, including 280 from Lakshadweep and 49 from Mahe will be performing Haj through the Kerala State Haj Committee this year. National carrier Air India will be operating a total of 19 flights to Jeddah.
One each flight has been scheduled at 1.45pm everyday till September 17. Three additional flights will be operated at 5pm on September 7, 8 and 9.