Private airlines warn of protest
The Council of Ministers has decided all Hajj pilgrims will be airlifted to Makkah by the state-owned Ariana Airlines this year, excluding private airlines from the operation.
Based on the decision, the Ministry of Hajj has been entrusted with responsibility for delivering services to intending pilgrims.
Shirin Agha Sakhi, a member of the Hajj committee and head of the ACCI's Board of Directors, told a press conference in Kabul the Cabinet had committed a gross injustice to the private sector.
But Abbas Arman, head of the Information and Public Relations Department at the Office of Administrative Affairs, told Pajhwok Afghan News the Cabinet had decided against involving the private sector because it violated agreements.
He accused private airlines of extorting money from pilgrims on different pretexts in recent years.
Rejecting the allegation, Sakhi insisted the private sector delivered better services than the Ministry of Hajj. "We urge the government to give us a role in flying 10,000 pilgrims to Makkah. We promise a marked improvement in our performance this time around."
Dr. Baz Mohammad Khadman, head of Tourist Companies' Association, asked President Hamid Karzai for a review of the Cabinet decision. "We will continue to struggle for our rights," he vowed.
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