With the significant demand for air travel during Hajj, Emirates is deploying extra flights to ensure more connectivity for the scores of pilgrims making their way to the Holy City of Makkah.
These special flights will be to Jeddah and Medina to ferry pilgrims for this particular period, consisting of a series of religious rituals completed over five days in Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, and the surrounding area in western Saudi Arabia.
The Hajj participation
After two years of fewer pilgrims due to the pandemic, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has dramatically expanded its Hajj participation to nearly a million pilgrims this year. About 2.5 million pilgrims participated in Hajj, one of the most significant religious gatherings worldwide, in 2019. Meanwhile, in 2021, the numbers were limited to only 60,000. This year, Saudi Arabia will allow one million domestic and foreign pilgrims.
On June 21st, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah statistics showed that more than 156,800 pilgrims had already arrived via Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina. Emirates has seen strong demand for Hajj travel this year from Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia, the UK, US, UAE, and Algeria.
Earlier this year, Emirates and the Saudi Tourism Authority had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost inbound tourism into the kingdom. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
To meet the expanded demand, the Dubai-based carrier will be operating 31 additional flights to Jeddah and double daily flights to Medina. In addition, Emirates has doubled passenger services to Singapore from seven to 14 weekly flights. These special services will run parallel with its regularly scheduled services and will be available to all passengers with valid Hajj visas. Pilgrims must also be under age 65, have a valid vaccination certificate with a vaccine authorized by the Saudi Ministry of Health, and carry a negative PCR test done within 72 hours of departure.
A pilgrim-centric experience
Considering the significance of the once-in-a-lifetime Hajj experience, Emirates has prepared a range of details to ensure that every pilgrim’s travel is aligned with the tenets of their faith. On the ground in Dubai, Hajj travelers having a long layover at Dubai International Airport will be attended to by dedicated teams to help escort them and support them on all their arrival formalities.
Onboard the aircraft, Emirates cabin crew will provide Hajj travelers with additional provisions such as ablution cleansing rituals, unperfumed towels, and advising passengers while en route to Jeddah about when they have entered Al Miqat zones and changing of Ihram robes through special passenger announcements.
Emirates has also carried more than 25 million passengers to and from the Kingdom since the start of its services in 1989. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
On flights from Jeddah, passengers can check in up to five liters of holy water, which will be placed in special areas in the cargo hold. Other unique initiatives include featuring a special Hajj video covering safety, general formalities, and information about performing the Hajj pilgrimage. Pilgrims will also be able to tune into the Holy Quran channel and other religious content. Throughout their journey, Pilgrims can be assured of an easy and restful journey onboard Emirates to ready them for the rest of their pilgrimage.
From additional deployments during the various festive and religious seasons to excelling in cultural catering, Emirates has been well-known as unparalleled in being sensitive in several aspects, be it cultural or religious. For the upcoming Hajj season, Emirates has undoubtedly carefully planned everything to ensure that the pilgrims are well-connected and well taken care of.