Saudi Arabia changes Covid guidelines for Hajj pilgrim

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Saudi Arabia has issued fresh COVID guidelines for Hajj pilgrims travelling to the Kingdom and warned airlines of strict action in case of violations.

The fresh guidelines were issued by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) Saudi Arabia, directing the airlines including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to ensure that Hajj pilgrims carry a COVID test report conducted 72 hours prior to the flight. Previously, the pilgrims were asked to carry a report of the COVID test conducted 48 hours prior to the flight. The GACA warned of strict actions against airlines if rules are flouted.

It further reminded that all pilgrims visiting the kingdom should be below the age of 65.

It is pertinent to mention here that the national flag carrier — Pakistan International Airline (PIA) — will begin this year’s Hajj flight operations from June 6.

According to PIA spokesperson, the first Hajj flight will depart for Madina from Islamabad on June 6. PIA said the Hajj flights to Saudi Arabia would fly to Jeddah and Madinah.

“The national flag carrier will operate overall 400 pre and post-Hajj flights from May 31 to August 13,” Pakistan’s national flag carrier said in a statement.

Hajj operation will be carried out from 8 cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan, Peshawar and Quetta, the statement read. The PIA will operate Boeing-777 for Hajj operations while Airbus A-320 would be used for flight operations from Quetta, according to the spokesperson. .INP