GACA warns off sub-standard Haj flights
Saudi Arabia's aviation regulator GACA has clamped down on sub-standard airlines and on illegal retail operations as part of its goal to improve safety and service for pilgrims on the Haj.
A number of airlines have been banned from transporting pilgrims during the forthcoming season. These include airlines on the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) banned list and those classified as “second category” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US . In a statement, GACA said these companies would be allowed to carry pilgrims only after rectifying the shortcomings listed by the US and European regulators.
According to the Al-Watan Arabic daily, a GACA source said that the authority had sent circulars to all aviation companies warning them against penal action in case of failing to transport pilgrims and their baggage on schedule.
“Punitive measures include fines amounting to SR10,000 and SR15,000 respectively for delays in arrival and departure of Haj flights. If any flight arrives in the Kingdom after the scheduled date of arrival, a fine of SR1,000 will be levied per pilgrim,” the source told the newspaper.
All airlines taking part in the Haj operation are required to deposit a bank guarantee of SR100,000 to SR200,000 with the authority as part of measures to ensure compliance with the guidelines for transporting pilgrims.
“If any airline fails to undertake their scheduled trips on time, the deposits will be used to meet the accommodation and food expenses of affected pilgrims,” the source told Al-Watan
GACA has urged all airlines to publish details of their Haj schedule, including dates of arrival and departur, number of pilgrims and the number of seats. The aviation companies have also been instructed to display boards with details about their obligations in case of delays. These boards in relevant languages should be displayed at conspicuous places, the circular said.
GACA also warned operators of pilgrim flights against shipping in consumer goods and foodstuffs for sale at the airport lounges. “Airlines that help people to convert King Abdulaziz Airport into a bazaar will face heavy fines,” the GACA source warned.