1400 pilgrims set for Hajj

TOPSHOTS Muslim pilgrims perform the final walk (Tawaf al-Wadaa) around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca on November 30, 2009. The annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage to Mecca wound up without the feared mass outbreak of swine flu, Saudi authorities said, reporting a total of five deaths and 73 proven cases. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

By Lamin Cham

A total of 1400 Gambians will perform the Hajj this year, official sources close to national carrier GIA told The Standard yesterday.
According to GIA, three direct flights have been arranged to fly the pilgrims between now and Saturday. “Tentatively, the first flight of 437 pilgrims is due to depart Banjul on Thursday morning at 10 am. The plane is a Boeing 777 coming from Flyanas airline from Saudi Arabia,” Lamin Cham, Managing Director of the Gambia International Airlines, said.

He added that the second flight carrying a similar number will depart on Friday while the final flight again of 437 pilgrims is expected to take off on Saturday.
“The three flights will carry 1311 of the 1400 while the remaining will travel on different flights; of course under the GIA package,” he added.


Asked if all pilgrims will arrive in time for the Hajj rites, the GIA MD said the hajj process starts on August 29 by which time all Gambian pilgrims would have since arrived.
“I must however add that flight schedules can change so these are tentative dates but there is strong possibility that all pilgrims will leave as scheduled so it is important for all pilgrims to get set and monitor the developments,” Mr Cham advised.