After scrapping Haj subsidy, Govt announces reduction in airfare for pilgrims

New Delhi: The Centre today announced a noteworthy reduction in airfare for people going on Haj, a month after it scrapped subsidies for the pilgrimage. Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi described the move as a “major step”.

“The PMO took a keen interest in this. The decision is in line with our empowerment without appeasement policy,” Naqvi told reporters.

The fare reduction will be applicable to passages on Air India, Saudi Airlines and Flynas, an air carrier based in Saudi Arabia, to Jeddah and Medina from 21 airports in India.

“The decision to cut airfares will end the “political and economic exploitation” of Hajis “as was done during the Congress-led UPA regime,” added Naqvi.

The round fare from Mumbai this year will be around Rs 57,857 as compared to Rs 98,750 in 2014 although the subsidized fare was Rs 35,000 per pilgrim.

Haj air fare has always been criticized for Air India overcharging the pilgrims. In normal days, return tickets for Saudi Arabia come for Rs 32,000 but during Haj, Air India used to charge Rs 65,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh from those going for Haj.

This comes a month after the government abolished Haj subsidy in line with a Supreme Court order of 2012.

This year 1.75 lakh Muslims will undertake the pilgrimage from India.