The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) will ban airliners not committed to returning pilgrims to their original countries within the specified time schedule, sources have said. The companies must submit a regular manifest, a list of the names of the pilgrims coming to the Kingdom ahead of time; otherwise fines will be imposed on them.
For purposes of assessment and the evaluation of Haj operations and services, and in view of past experiences, all instructions and regulations of airliners should guarantee the return of pilgrims to their original countries, said a GACA memo distributed among all national and international carriers operating in the Kingdom. The memo was also distributed to travel and tourism agencies and service providers at Jeddah and Madinah airports.
The statement explained that the authority endorsed specifications and standards of air safety applicable by the European Aviation Safety Agency.
“Any carrier registered on the black list of this agency will be prohibited from operating to and from Saudi Arabia, unless the carrier proves it has taken the corrective measures to lift the ban,” said the authority.
More than 1.5 million Haj pilgrims come by air to visit the holy sites.
“This ban is bound to prompt all related agencies in the country to create the right conditions and circumstances to welcome pilgrims, and provide the integrated care and services by all public and private sectors,” GACA said. “They should ensure pilgrims’ safety from the moment they arrive until their return to their home countries.” Every year the authority issues specified directions concerning pilgrims arriving by air so as to regulate operations of carriers, and complete all procedures of their arrivals and departures in a safe and regulated and manner.
The directions in place specify mechanisms of implementation, and set out the procedural steps for submitting applications for operating and the controls governing them. It ensures the scheduling of flight trips and allocates the numbers of airspace reservations and their approval as well as the requirements of air safety and operations in order to get the necessary permits.
The directions that the authority issues specify as well the technical controls and requirements of air operations applicable to all flights — carrier or charter.