The Ministry of Tourism prevented tourism companies that organise Umrah trips from contracting with private aviation companies during the current season unless they are approved by the ministry.
An official at the Ministry of Tourism said that the ban from signing contracts with the non-accredited private aviation companies is to ensure the rights of the mu’tamir (the one performing Umrah) and to prevent their traffic, whether in Egyptian or Saudi airports.
He added that the ministry requires the approval of the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority and the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority to authorise a private civil aviation company as an airline carrier for Umrah this season.
The official said that the ministry sent a letter to the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association in order to send a notification to its member Umrah-organising companies during the current season.
Hassan Aziz, chairperson of the Egyptian Federation for Private Aviation, said that some private airlines violate these regulations, which is a disservice to the committed companies and creates a state of congestion at airports.
“The decision came to protect the rights of those performing Umrah, as well as the airlines committed to the rules, which will create a working state of organisation to prevent congestion at airports,” Aziz said.
Aziz expected the number of Egyptians performing Umrah to increase to 1.5 million, compared to 1.2 million last season, in light of the reconstruction work increasing in the area of the Great Mosque of Mecca.
The turnout for the private aviation trips for Umrah will grow by 80% during the current season, according to Aziz.
Aziz added that stopping Umrah trips during the next four months will make private airline companies compete on prices, and this will make those performing Umrah accept the booking prices compared to last year.