Indian officials have made all necessary arrangements for Haj pilgrims as the first Air India plane carrying 259 faithfuls arrived in Jeddah from Lucknow, with three additional flights, one each from Srinagar, Nagpur and Kolkata, expected on Sunday.
The Indian flag carrier with 259 Haj pilgrims, which arrived in Jeddah from Lucknow on Sunday, was received by the Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia MOH Farooq.
Indian officials told PTI that three more flights, one each from Srinagar, Nagpur and Kolkata, are also arriving on Sunday.
Earlier, Dr Ausaf Sayeed, Indian Consul-General in Jeddah, told PTI over phone that all arrangements for receiving the pilgrims have been made.
There will be 350 flights from 15 embarkation points, with Varanasi being included as a new embarkation this year.
Of the 157,000, 110,000 are travelling through the Central Haj Committee and the rest 47,000 through private operators.
The main Haj pilgrimage will be on December 19 and 20. There are 12 centurions among the nearly 157,000 Indians expected to perform the annual pilgrimage this year. The oldest among them is a 108-year-old lady from Maharashtra.
Air India will carry pilgrims from Jaipur, Srinagar, Kolkatta, Gawhati, Patna, Varanasi, Lukhnow, Kozhikode, Nagpur while the Saudi Arabian Airlines will carry pilgrims from Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad.