In the wake of the Supreme Court's direction to gradually end subsidy, the Haj Committee of India is considering a proposal to float global tenders to choose the airline offering the most competitive fares for pilgrims.
Welcoming the ruling to end the Haj subsidy in the next 10 years and that the money be instead used for development of the Muslim community, committee vice-chairman A. Aboobucker said the government's funds were hitherto being used to subsidise airfare for pilgrims.
“Against a return journey fare of around Rs 38,000 to Jeddah by Air India, pilgrims were paying Rs 20,000 to Rs 22,000. The remainder was being borne by the government, which was paying the amount directly to Air India.”
From the 2013 Haj season 2013, the committee would invite tenders to choose the airline offering fares lower than AI.
“There are a number of airlines, which can offer a competitive price,” he said, adding a cheaper fare would cushion the increased burden to be borne by the pilgrims on account of withdrawal of the subsidy.
Annually, 1,25,000 people undertook the pilgrimage from India through the Haj Committee, while 45,000 others counted on private tour operators, he said.