The timings of direct flights from Gaya to Medina in Saudi Arabia have been changed for the benefit of Haj pilgrims.
Two daily flights will take off at 10am and 1pm, respectively, from September 17 to October 6. Earlier, the departure time of the flights was 7.30am and 9.30am.
The pilgrims will fly back from Jeddah between November 1 and November 20.
Mohammed Nehaluddin, in-charge, Haj affairs, Gaya airport, said: “Central Haj committee member Md Iliyas Hussain alias Sonu Babu informed me about the re-scheduling of the two flights at the meeting held at Gaya airport on Saturday.”
Bihar Haj committee chairperson Anisur Rahman Qasmi had requested the central Haj committee chairperson Mohsina Kidwai to change in the flight timings.
He said it takes at least three hours for pilgrims from Patna to travel to Gaya. Three more hours are required to complete immigration formalities and loading. As a result, pilgrims have to set off from Patna at 1am to catch the 7.30am flight.
A meeting was held in the last week of August to discuss the issue.
“Air India officials, Qasmi and I had attended the meeting to discuss the re-scheduling of the timings,” said Nehaluddin.
Bihar home secretary Aamir Subhani arrived in Gaya on Saturday to review the preparations for Haj flight operations. He attended a meeting with senior administrative and police officers
After the meeting, Subhani said: “All Haj pilgrims will report in Patna and arrive here by bus. Relatives and friends would have to see off the pilgrims in Patna itself.”
Airports Authority of India will set up a camp at the airport, where pilgrims will be able to take rest and perform namaaz. Volunteers will be deployed to assist the pilgrims.
Stringent security arrangements will also be made for the Haj pilgrims.
Magadh range deputy inspector-general of police Nayyer Hasnain Khan said: “A check-post will be opened at Kadauna police outpost in the Jehanabad district on the Patna-Gaya road. Intensive patrolling will be done on the stretch.”
He added: “A rescue team will also be constituted. A temporary police station will be opened at the Gaya airport. We have requested the state government to provide us with additional force.”