Inaugural Haj flight takes off

FIRST FLIGHT: Minister for Wakf and Haj Pilgrimage V.K. Ebrahim Kunju flagging off the Haj flight at Calicut Airport on Saturday afternoon.  

Staff Reporter

KARIPUR: The first batch of Haj pilgrims left for Madina on Saturday afternoon. The inaugural Haj flight took off from Calicut Airport at 4.55 p.m., carrying 293 pilgrims. Minister for Wakf and Haj Pilgrimage V.K. Ibrahim Kunju flagged off Air-India's Jumbo Combi flight AI-3801.

There were 167 women and 126 men in the first batch. They were given a warm farewell at the airport by a host of Government officials and politicians.

Abdussamad Samadani, MP; Kozhikode District Collector Rachana Shah; C.P. Kunhu Mohammed, Central Haj Committee member and general convener of the Haj camp; T.P.C. Mohammed, head of public relations wing at the camp; and Qamarunnisa Anwar, chairperson of the State Women's Development Corporation were among those present to see off the pilgrims.

The pilgrims left for the airport at 2 p.m. after checking in their baggage at the Haj camp set up near the airport. Air-India, which operates the entire Haj flights from Kerala, had set up three check-in counters at the camp. Special arrangements were made at the airport for the departure of the pilgrims.

On Saturday morning, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) president Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal inaugurated the Haj camp. K.N.A. Khader, MLA, presided over the function. Chairman of the State Haj Committee Alikutty Musliar welcomed the gathering.

The document of a piece of land given free of cost to the Haj Committee for the construction of the proposed Haj House was handed over to the officials on the occasion. Abdurahman Haji, a local resident, gave the Haj Committee 18 cents of land adjoining the present Haj House.

There was confusion among pilgrims as the airline effected changes in its Haj schedule several times. Ms. Shah, who is the chief executive officer of the Haj Committee in Kerala, said that the confusion would be cleared by Sunday when the final list of pilgrims is ready.

Air-India will operate two flights on Sunday. Flight AI-3703 will leave Karipur at 9.30 a.m. with 201 passengers, and flight AI-3803 will take off at 11.40 a.m. with 293 pilgrims. On Monday also there will be two flights. The first one with 201 pilgrims will leave at 3.30 a.m. The second flight, carrying 293 pilgrims, will leave at 5.40 a.m.