International airlines have started competing for Muslim passengers going for Hajj to Mecca.
Qatar Airways, which operates four flights from Kathmandu to Doha, and two flights a day from Doha to Jeddah is offering a special fare for the pilgrimage, whereas Air Arabia has been declared the official carrier for Muslim Hajj pilgrims by the Hajj committee of the government.
"The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced Air Arabia as the official carrier for Muslim Hajj pilgrims," the airlines said, adding that Air Arabia had proposed a round trip fare of $ 870 and became the official airlines.
The flight on the Kathmandu-Sharjah-Jeddah route will have a transit of three to four hours in Sharjah and Air Arabia will provide food and lodging facilities for Hajj travelers, it said.
"Hajj pilgrims can depart from Kathmandu from October 7 to October 14, and return to Kathmandu within 45 days of departure," Air Arabia said, hoping to provide a comfortable and memorable flight experience to Muslim Hajj travellers going to Mecca.
Similarly, Qatar Airways is offering a special fare of Rs 82,000, including all the taxes and surcharges for passengers travelling from Nepal to Saudi Arabia — to perform this year's Hajj pilgrimage — and back.
"The offer is valid for travel from Kathmandu between October 7 and October 13, and pilgrims must return between November 17 and November 27, Qatar Airways added.
Nearly 1,000 Nepali Muslims perform the pilgrimage every year, and Qatar Airways carried 858 pilgrims last year providing excellent five-star rated service including extra baggage allowance to carry food and holy water, known as Zam Zam water, on the way back, the airlines said, adding that the offer is valid only till the end of August and tickets need to be purchased before August 31.
Hajj is a pilgrimage taken by Muslims to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and it occurs from the eighth to 12th day of Dul-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of Ramdan.