Dubai carrier Emirates has said it will operate extra flights to the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Madinah for the upcoming Hajj season.
The 33 additional flights will accommodate the travel of pilgrims from August 6 to August 31 and run in parallel to regularly scheduled services.
They are available to passengers holding a valid Hajj visa.
Emirates expects most Hajj passengers to come from Pakistan, Senegal, the US, UK, Australia, Indonesia, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria this year.
“Hajj travel is an extraordinary journey for Muslims which leaves them with a lifetime of memorable experiences, and we expect over 25,000 pilgrims to travel with Emirates this year,” said Emirates SVP of commercial operations in the Gulf, Middle East and Iran Adil Al Ghaith.
“With the significant demand for air travel during this period, Emirates is deploying extra flights to ensure more seamless connections for the scores of pilgrims making their way to the Holy City of Makkah.”
A dedicated airport team has been formed to facilitate Hajj pilgrim travel at Dubai International Airport, with dedicated check-in and transit counters.
In the air, the airline is making extra provisions such as performing abultions, introducing a special Hajj safety video and advising passengers about Al Miqat and Ihram – the phase when pilgrims enter a state of sanctity.
Passengers will be able to bring up to five litres of holy water on flights from Jeddah. These will be placed in special area of the cargo hold.
Passengers will also enjoy a special baggage allowance of up to 35kg in economy, 40kg in business and 50kg in first class.
The five-day Hajj ritual is a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Pilgrims retrace the route Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago in what is the largest annual gathering of Muslims.
The 2017 Hajj season saw more than 2.35 million pilgrims converge on Makkah including 1.75 million from outside Saudi Arabia.
Emirates also put on 24 extra flights to accommodate Umrah passengers last month.