Hajj travel prompts UAE airlines to increase flights to Saudi Arabia

Etihad has added 16 extra services to Jeddah and Madinah until August 28

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Hajj pilgrims are on the move this week, and in response to the increased demand Etihad has added 16 more flights to Jeddah and Madinah this Hajj season.

Emirates has also added extra flights to cater to Hajj demand, with 33 additional services to Jeddah and Madinah running until August 31.

Etihad says most inbound passengers expected to travel on to Hajj are coming from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Korea and Nigeria.

Emirates has specific Hajj staff in place at Dubai International Airport, and dedicated Hajj staff have also been put in place at Abu Dhabi International Airport, with special Etihad check-in counters set up to handle the movements of pilgrims.

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Etihad says they anticipate a 17 per cent increase in the number of pilgrims travelling with them in 2018 compared to the same period last year.

The additional Etihad Hajj flights will operate until August 28.

Around two million Muslims are expected to converge on Saudi Arabia this week as they descend on Makkah to perform one of the five pillars of Islam.

For many pilgrims, the journey to Makkah is the first time they will leave their countries or board planes. More than half of those performing Hajj visit from low-income countries, and 18 per cent come from conflict-ridden states.