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India’s Akasa Air to start Jeddah and Riyadh flights

Indian Hajj pilgrims say goodbye to relatives in Kashmir before leaving for Saudi Arabia Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Reuters
Indian Hajj pilgrims say goodbye to relatives in Kashmir before leaving for Saudi Arabia
  • Flights start as Hajj pilgrimage begins
  • Total of 21 flights in place by July
  • Akasa also flying to Kuwait

Saudi Arabia has licensed Indian low-cost airline Akasa Air to begin flights this week as the Hajj pilgrimage begins, giving a further boost to the kingdom’s tourism plans. 

The flights into Jeddah include two from Ahmedabad and 12 from Mumbai per week starting from 8 June, and seven into Riyadh from Mumbai per week starting from 4 July, the General Authority for Civil Aviation said. 

The schedule appeared to be aimed at capturing the Muslim pilgrim market in India ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage this month, as well as the summer season. The Hajj season peaks with Eid al-Adha, expected to start on 17 June.



The airline had originally said in March it would begin flights in late October, including to Kuwait. 

Saudi authorities said last month they would privatise domestic airports and issue more licences for low-cost operators. 

Dubai-based Flydubai, Saudi private operator Flynas and flyadeal, owned by national carrier Saudia, are among current popular carriers. 

Saudi Arabia wants tourism to cover 10 percent of GDP by 2030 as part of its vast economic transformation programme. But religious tourism still accounts for almost half of Saudi Arabia’s international arrivals. 

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are planning to build a pilgrimage air terminal in Kuala Lumpur to increase pilgrim traffic. 

“This step is part of the aviation authority’s effort to strengthen aviation connectivity and make the kingdom a global logistics hub,” the official Saudi Press Agency said.

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