Ordeal of 325 stranded Pakistani pilgrims ends as CAA permits Shaheen Air to resume Haj flight

  • Some 3,330 pilgrims flew to KSA aboard flights operated by Shaheen Airlines

JEDDAH — Hundreds of Pakistani pilgrims, who went to Saudi Arabia through a private carrier and have been stranded in the holy city of Madinah after Haj, has come an end as authorities permitted the airline to resume its operations.

A batch of 325 pilgrims were left stranded on Friday as Shaheen Air International (SAI), Pakistan’s first private airlines, failed to comply with civil aviation rules of Pakistan. They were scheduled to fly back from Madinah’s Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport to Karachi.

The license — which is renewed on a quarterly basis — expired on Aug. 30, 2018, read a statement issued by CAA. It added that “there is no licensed aircraft available on the airline’s inventory.”

Now, a day after its post-Hajj operation was suspended, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted the airline permission to depart to the Kingdom to bring back pilgrims from Jeddah and Madinah.

“We were granted permission by the CAA early Saturday morning, subsequently, our flight departed to Madina to bring the pilgrims back to the country. We apologise to the pilgrims for the inconvenience and assure that the rest of the post-Haj operation will operate peacefully,” read an SIA statement.

Meanwhile, the CAA said it allowed the airline to continue with the post-Haj flight operation in better “public interest”.

The stranded pilgrims have been moved to hotels and alternative flights have been arranged to fly them back to Karachi, reports the Saudi Gazette.

Shaheen Air post-Hajj operations suspended as CAA refuses to extend its license over non-payment

In the past as well, the Saudi Arbian authorities denied Shaheen aircraft to land as the airlines was using an aircraft that taken on lease from a foreign carrier.

Saudi Arabia allows only airlines that have own aircraft to fly to and in from Kingdom.

Some 3,330 pilgrims flew to the Kingdom aboard flights operated by Shaheen Airlines.