Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the only state-owned air travel agency, has allocated its entire 63,000 air tickets for the pilgrims to only 104 Hajj agents out of 635 operating Hajj agencies that got approval and allocation of pilgrims from the the government to send them to Saudi Arabia.
As a result, although some of the Hajj agencies have got only 50 to 150 tickets for their pilgrims, some have received more than 2,500 tickets each. However, some of the agencies have not got a single ticket from the state-run air travel agency.
In this situation, the deprived Hajj agents and a section of the pilgrims feared of ticket syndicating by the extra ticket holder Hajj agencies. They would take around Tk 10,000 to 15,000 extra for each of the tickets from the deprived agencies. According to their estimation, the ticket syndicate may charge around Tk 65 crore to Tk 90 crore extra by selling the tickets to the agencies in three phases. A section of the Biman officials are also involved with the ticketing syndicate, they claimed. When contacted, Biman’s General Manager (Sales) Md Ashraf told the Daily Observer that they are aware of ticket syndicating gang. There is no chance of mal-practice regarding ticketing.
“We,on Sunday, selected the Hajj agencies for air tickets basis on our business with them in last two years. Last year, the highest ticket receiver agency had got less than 2,200 tickets. The number was taken in consideration while selecting them. They agencies will get the problem management reports (PMR) by Wednesday to Thursday,” he added.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry 63,000 pilgrims out of total 1,27,198 pilgrims. The rests 64,000 pilgrims will be carried by the Saudi Arabian Airlines, a Saudi Arabian state-run air travel agency.
However, the Hajj agencies and pilgrims claimed that although the government allowed 635 Hajj agents for sending their pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year, the Biman authority has sold its all tickets to only 104 Hajj agents. Some of the Hajj agents have got only 50 to 150 air tickets from the Biman.
The rests of the air tickets have gone to the pockets of a 20-member ticket syndicate. They have already started selling the ticket in advance by taking around Tk 10,000 to Tk 15,000 extra from the deprived agencies. They have a target of collecting more than Tk 65 crore extra by selling the tickets.
Some present and past leaders of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) and Association of Travel Agencies of Bangladesh (ATAB) are involved with the ticket syndicate, they alleged.
They demanded equal distributionof the air tickets of the Biman. Or the agency may sale its tickets to the Hajj agencies basis on their exact number of pilgrims, they claimed.