MECCA- Six airports in Saudi Arabia, including four ranked among the top 100 airports globally, are currently on high alert. These airports are preparing to receive 1.7 million pilgrims during the Hajj season. With 7,700 flights expected from countries across all continents.
Numerous aircraft operated by international airlines will adjust their flight paths to accommodate the influx of travelers to the largest country in the Middle East.
Saudi Airports are on High Alert
In cooperation with the Ministry of Hajj, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Saudi Arabia has undertaken significant upgrades. For its international airports, particularly those serving as key destinations for pilgrims.
Four of these airports have achieved rankings among the top 100 airports worldwide in 2023. The UK-based organization “Skytrax” evaluates and rates over 550 airlines and airports globally.
The selection of international and regional airports to cater to pilgrims was carefully considered. Further, taking into account geographical distribution and the need for around-the-clock operations.
As per official statements from Saudi authorities, these airports are expected to handle 7,700 flights. Subsequently, carrying approximately 1.7 million pilgrims during the 2023 Hajj season.
Based on observations by the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT), it has been noted that in previous years, the number of pilgrims arriving by air exceeded 1.3 million in 2014. It is a figure that was closely matched in the subsequent year.
Notably, numbers significantly increased during the 2018 Hajj season. With Saudi airports receiving 1.8 million pilgrims. In 2019, foreign pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia by air accounted for 93% of the total. Subsequently reaching 1.7 million foreign pilgrims.
As a result, the operational departments for Hajj and Umrah under the Ministry of Hajj in the six airports are expected to play a vital role in the operational plan. By demonstrating the high absorptive capacity to serve the pilgrims efficiently. From their arrival to transportation to their residences at the holy sites.
Recognizing their experience in dealing with pilgrims, the Ministry of Hajj took proactive measures to streamline processes and save time and effort for all entities involved and the pilgrims themselves.
The ministry launched awareness campaigns in the countries of origin of the travelers, providing information on local aviation systems, customs, and directives, along with essential life skills. These campaigns were conducted in 11 languages to ensure clear communication and widespread understanding among the largest possible audience.
During an official occasion held by the Ministry in Jeddah on June 4th, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah, expressed Saudi Arabia’s intention to increase the number of pilgrims in the coming years.
This commitment aligns with the goals outlined in “Saudi Vision 2030,” a strategic plan launched by the Kingdom’s leadership.
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