By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Tripoli, 31 August 2013:
Libyan Airlines says that recent records were broken this year when it flew 80,000 Umrah pilgrims . . .[restrict]to Saudi Arabia. It is the largest number it has taken in many years, it says.
The Umrah pilgrimage season, now ended, started for Libyan Airlines at beginning of January this year. Throughout the season until the end of August, there were flights from Tripoli and Benghazi to Jeddah as well as to Medina.
The airline says that the reason for its success was the fact that it now has more aircraft. Five new planes joined the fleet during the past nine months , including three Airbus 320s and two wide-bodied Airbus 330s.
But another other reason for the airline’s success has been the soaring number of Libyans wanting to perform Umrah. According to the Saudi Ambassador, Mohammed Al-Ali, 150,000 Libyans were granted visas to perform Umrah during the eight-month pilgrimage season. It is a record. “It is an enormous figure,” the ambassador recently told the Libya Herald. “There have been flights to Jeddah every day. Some days there were six a day.
Libyan Airlines says it plans next year to fly pilgrims to Jeddah and Medina from several other Libyan towns to ease the trip. The airline is meanwhile now gearing up for the Haj pilgrimage season which starts in mid-September.
Last year it carried more than a one and a quarter million passengers. This year, it says it expects the figure to be nearly two million. [/restrict]