(SDN) — TOTAL fees and airfare for Hajj 2019 is lower by Php30,214 compared to 2018.
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) achieved this by contracting a third airline — Oman Air — in addition to Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) and Philippine Airlines (PAL).
NCMF Secretary/CEO Saidamen Balt Pangarungan announced this today, February 14, before some members of the media at his office along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
It can be recalled that each of the 5,800 pilgrims from the Philippines in 2018 paid a total of Php197,000 for hajj fees and airfare.
In his visit to Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia, late last year, Pangarungan convinced the Ministry of Hajj to waive its two-airlines policy for the pilgrimage, and allow a third airline for Filipinos. The Saudi government granted the request.
NCMF Secretary/CEO Saidamen B. Pangarungan announces a breakthrough in lower Hajj 2019 fee and airfare, which is lower by Php30,214 compared to Hajj 2018. (EKU)
With the third airline, which is Oman Air, the NCMF was able to lower the hajj fees and airfare.
The NCMF secretary also announced that for this year, Filipino pilgrims will be accommodated only in 4-star to 5-star hotels in Madinah and Makkah.
“There will also be sufficient shuttle service to and from Masjid El Haram (Makkah Grand Mosque). Everyone is assured that the past experience of substandard hotel accommodations for Filipinos will never be experienced again,” said Pangarungan.
Apparently, one very important is the lowering of the two-way airfare. Pangarungan credited the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
“Most importantly, the fee for Hajj 2019 has been significantly reduced. In the Hajj 2018, the fee paid per pilgrim reached Php197,000. For this year, the Duterte Administration was successful in reducing the fee to Php166,786 per pilgrim,” he emphasized.
Pangarungan also called on intending pilgrims to observe the final and last day — March 20, 2019 — of the registration for Hajj 2019 with all the NCMF’s 11 regional offices across the country, except North Luzon, South Luzon, and Visayas Region.
The deadline covers payments and registration. After March 20, no cancellation and no refund of Mutawiff will be allowed for those who registered but will not proceed to perform the pilgrimage.
As of today, the NCMF said at least 1,000 have already registered for the pilgrimage.
The NCMF secretary said pilgrims will be able to avail themselves of the Php166,786 hajj cost if they book with Oman Air. He said the fee “translates to a reduction of Php30,214 per pilgrim.”
He added the Php166,786 amount covers the mutawiff, sheikh or murshid fee, and the round trip airfare. “Oman Air has been hailed as the “world’s leading airline in economy class in 2017” and the “Middle East Best Airline for 2016, 2017, and 2018.”
On the other hand, he said, if a pilgrim chooses to fly with the Saudi flag carrier the total fee to be paid is Php185,336, which is “still lower by Php11,664 per pilgrim than that of the Hajj 2018.”
The NCMF secretary said the two-way ticket for Oman Air (Manila-Muscat-Manila/Jeddah-Muscat-Manila) is US$950 or Php50,350 ($1 at Php53).
On the other hand, a round-trip ticket with Saudia (Manila-Madinah/Jeddah-Manila) is $1,300 or Php68,900.
“It is my honor to announce to the public that under the leadership of our beloved President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, there will be changes for the benefit of the public in the annual Hajj or pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Pangarungan noted that while Hajj 2019 fee and airfare for the Philippines was reduced in coordination with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj, other countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey raised their pilgrimage fees.
“This reduction of hajj fees is unprecedented. For the first time in the history of the annual hajj, the fee is reduced,” he said.
On behalf of the government and local Muslims, Pangarungan also expressed thanks to the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Philippines under Ambassador Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Bussairy for the embassy’s facilitation of the pilgrimage every year for Filipinos.
Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam, of which every adult Muslim is obliged to performance once in a lifetime.
The five pillars are Shahaddah (Profession of Faith); Salat (5 daily prayers); Sawm (Fasting in Ramadan); Zakat (Obligatory Charity); and Hajj.
Here is the complete Hajj 2019 Schedule of Fees and Airfare as released by the Bureau of External Relations(NCMF-BER) from the Bureau of Pilgrimage and Endowment (NCMF-BPE):
- Mutawiff Fees at US$1,957 (Php103,721), which covers 4- to 5-star hotel accommodation in Madinah and Makkah, Entrance fee for transportation and tent accommodation, food in Arafa and Mina, and insurance.
- Meningococcal vaccine and miscellaneous expenses, Php2,115.
- Sheikh fee or Murshid fee at $200/pilgrim, Php10,600.
- Oman Air, Php50,350. (Total is Php166,786).
- Saudia, Php68,900. (Total is Php185,336).
A pilgrim has the option what airline to take.
Meanwhile, here are the travel agencies the accredited by the NCMF for booking of pilgrims for their flights to Saudi Arabia and Philippines:
Asia International Travel Corp.; Infinity Travel and Tours, Inc.; Las Palmas Tours and Travels; Manila International Travel (MIT); Philippine Al Rayah Travel Services Corp.; Sharp Travel Service Phils., Inc.; Skynet Travel Corp.; Skyreign Travel and Tours Corp.; Travel Managers International, Inc.; and Warner Barnes Travel.
The travel agencies are all members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). ((EKU)
This story was updated to include the travel agencies, and may receive more updates.
Image source: Makkah Grand Mosque with Ka’aba courtesy of Adli Wahid.