LAHORE - Pakistan International Airlines has again raised Umrah fare by 33 percent, some 20 days after announcing a hike in the overall fare, sources in the national flag carrier said on Saturday.

The fresh hike in Umrah fare has left travel agents and Umrah pilgrims vexed and annoyed since many of them had ended up making deals as per the fare announced 20 days ago by PIA.

A number of travel agents had received token money from Umrah pilgrims against the low fare, but when they contacted the airlines management for reservation of tickets they were told the fare had been increased.

According to a travel agent, PIA had set price for a return ticket for Umrah for Rs47,645, but two days ago it was jacked up to Rs65,000.

“We are in an embarrassing situation after the increase in Umrah fare without any prior notice,” said the agent who wished not to be named.

An Umrah pilgrim said the hike was an extra burden on inflation-stricken masses. He regretted that PIA was offering promotional packages on other sectors, like America and Europe, but not on the Saudi Arabian sector. 

It may be mentioned here that other countries, even the Indian government, offer Umrah pilgrims subsidy on fare.

When contacted spokesperson for PIA said the airline did not increase fare for Umrah, rather it was a sequence of the fare table that those passengers who had earlier obtained their tickets were entertained in low fare classes. But now when good number of Umrah pilgrims has been entertained, seats in low fare classes have been ended and passengers would have to go for a high fare class, naturally.

Flight left 15 pilgrims behind

A Shaheen Airlines flight departed on Saturday from Allama Iqbal International Airport without 15 passengers having confirmed tickets.

An aviation staff said that tickets were issued to 385 Umrah passengers on a Shaheen airlines flight having the capacity of 370 passengers.

When the flight left, the 15 passengers protested at the airport against the airlines management. But the management said overbooking was committed by travel agents and not by the airline.