JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has resumed serving flights to carry umrah (minor haj) pilgrims on November 1 after the Saudi Arabian government lifted its temporary visa restrictions related the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first umrah flight in seven months was operated by Saudia, carrying 253 Indonesian pilgrims. The Boeing 777-300 flight SV 817 departed Jakarta at 10.45am local time and was scheduled to arrive in Jeddah at 16.30pm local time.
Indonesian airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II (Persero) president director Muhammad Awaluddin gave an assurance that the Umrah pilgrims had strictly undergone the health protocols at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport before leaving for the holy land.
“One of the health protocols is to show a negative result of PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test that must be done not later than 72 hours before departure,” Awaluddin said in a statement on Sunday, November 1.
Under the Saudi Arabian government’s latest policy, only foreign umrah aged 18-50 are eligible to perform the Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
He went on to say that Soekarno-Hatta International Airport will ensure a smooth departure process for the pilgrims to follow the health protocols required by the government of Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
“The Indonesian citizens can now perform again the umrah following the departure of the first flight from Soekarno-Hatta Airport,” he said.
“Therefore, it is important for the Soekarno-Hatta Airport to keep our commitment and honor the trust given to us by implementing the Covid-19 protocols, including those related to the health aspect,” he added.
Elsewhere, Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi welcomed the reopening of umrah flights from Indonesia after the Saudi Arabian government has decided to issue visas following temporary suspension.
“We are very pleased with the reopening of umrah flights from Indonesia. We call on the umrah pilgrims to be disciplined to follow the health protocols during a flight and haj. Hopefully, the umrah pilgrimage will run smoothly and everyone is in good health,” said Budi.
Based on the information provided by the Indonesian Transportation Attaché in Jeddah, currently, only Saudia is allowed to transport the umrah pilgrims from the Middle East, Europe, the United States, Asia, and Africa.
This step is part of the efforts to strictly implement the health protocols during the pandemic. The trials will take place from November-December.
The Ministry of Transportation has coordinated with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Saudi Arabian Aviation Authority in providing national flights from Indonesia to serve umrah pilgrims. Also, to include the airlines in the e-system booking procedures for umrah, the statement added.
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