The first batch of 337 Haj pilgrims left for Jeddah from the special terminus at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Tuesday.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Chairperson of All India Haj Committee Mohsina Kidwai accorded a ceremonial send-off to the pilgrims at the airport.
This year, Saudi Arabian Airlines had won the bid to fly the pilgrims to Jeddah. It is expected to run around 525 return flights to Jeddah from 21 destinations across the country.
The first Haj flights took off on October 9. The operations will continue till early November.
“This year, around 1,25,000 pilgrims are expected to
travel through the Haj Committee of India. This is the largest number ever,” Krishna said while addressing the pilgrims.
Around 45,431 pilgrims will be travelling through private tour operators.
Also, Bhopal and Goa have been added as new embarking points for pilgrims from this year, in addition to the existing 19, Krishna added.