STOCK Saudi / Jeddah / airport
Immigration counters are seen at the arrival hall at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Nearly 7,700 flights are scheduled to carry Muslim pilgrims from around the world to and from Saudi Arabia during the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage season, according to media reports.

Around 1.7 million seats have been allocated on these flights for the pilgrims who are due to land at six airports in the kingdom.

They are the airports of King Abdulaziz in Jeddah, the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz airport in Medina, Taif airport, the Prince Abdulmohssen airport in Yanbu, the King Khaled airport in Riyadh and the King Fahd airport in Dammam.

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The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation oversees service providers’ compliance with safety and quality standards, and readiness of operation plans for pilgrim arrivals and departures.

The first flights carrying pilgrims from Malaysia and Bangladesh left Sunday heading for Saudi Arabia as part of a Saudi plan providing facilities to the faithful, dubbed the Makkah Route Initiative.

Two plans with a total of 650 Malaysian pilgrims on board later Sunday landed at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz airport in Medina, according to some Saudi media.

Hajj, one of Islam’s five obligatory duties, is due late next month.

Saudi Arabia has said that there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the coming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the pandemic.

In the past two years, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform the Hajj rites to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Around 2.5 million Muslims used to attend Hajj annually in the pre-pandemic times.

Muslims, who can physically and financially afford Hajj, have to perform it at least once in a lifetime.