VISA DELAY SOLVED
178 of 229 pilgrims leave for Holy Land
ATOTAL of 178 out of 229 haj pilgrims, whose journey was delayed, due to a snag in obtaining their visa, have departed to the Holy Land yesterday after securing the travel authorisation.
Tabung Haji (TH) group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Johan Abdullah said this was possible after the Saudi Arabian embassy in Malaysia increased its staff numbers to process the pilgrims’ visa applications around the clock.
“They are working every day, including on weekends, to process the visa applications of those flying to Mecca and Medina.”
He said this was thanks to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Malaysia Datuk Fahad Abdullah Al-Rashid.
He said the visa issuance process for pilgrims was a highly-detailed process, with authorities having to scrutinise each applicant’s particulars, including their place of stay in Mecca and Medina.
“The delay is caused by a high number of visa applications worldwide sent by prospective pilgrims to Saudi Arabian authorities. Our Haj quota has been restored to 30,200 this year; this is also one of the reasons for the delay.
He said 16,974 Malaysian pilgrims had arrived at the Holy Land as of 8am yesterday.
“We have increased the flight capacity of each chartered flight from 278 passengers (Boeing 777) to 420 passengers (Airbus 330) to expedite their journey to the Holy Land.”
He said 47 out of 110 scheduled haj flights had departed for the Holy Land, adding that the last flight was scheduled on Aug 26.
“TH has been in operation for 54 years and we have never failed in facilitating the journey of pilgrims to the Holy Land.”
He said a 24-hour information centre had been set up at the TH Complex in Kelana Jaya to transmit the latest information to pilgrims.
For information, the public may call 0378736297 or 013-8068099.
Datuk Seri Johan Abdullah