Hyderabad: Several pilgrims from Hyderabad who intended to perform Umrah were not allowed to board their flight as the Saudi government’s travel restrictions on the heels of the Coronavirus outbreak came into force.
At this moment, there is no clarity on the number of such pilgrims but unofficial sources say that the number could be upwards of 150. They were scheduled to leave via Saudia Airlines flight number SV 755.
Several calls to the Saudi Airlines regional office did not elicit a response. A call to the office landline met with hostility with the staff member refusing to divulge any information. It is not clear whether the passengers will be refunded as well.
Unofficial sources, however, confirmed that Umrah visa have been suspended following instructions from the Saudi Arabian government. Travel agents also confirmed that other types of visas such as visit visas and tourist visas too have been suspended.
Several travel agents said that dozens of passengers scheduled to fly to the Saudi Arabia were left in the lurch as the travel restrictions caught them unawares.
Mohammed Shoeb from Link Travels in the Old City said that around 40 passengers who were supposed to travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday will now be unable to fly. He also pointed out that while Saudia Airlines has daily one direct flight to Jeddah, there are other carriers which too have direct flights. Others like Emirates and Etihad reach KSA after passing through either Abu Dhabi or Bahrain.
The travel restrictions are likely to affect thousands of pilgrims and others from the state who are scheduled to travel to Kingdom. It is not clear when these will be lifted and how they are likely to have an effect on the upcoming Haj season.