Garuda invites aircraft tenders for Indonesian Haj pilgrims
Indonesia's national carrier Garuda has invited tenders for a three-month lease of 16 aircraft to transport Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, according to a report Monday. Garuda's head of communications Pujobroto (eds: one name) was quoted by the Bisnis Indonesia daily newspaper as saying the tender was designed to enable thousands of Muslims to perform their Haj next year.
Pujobroto said Garuda was looking to rent at least 16 aircraft for February-April 2001. Garuda was looking for Boeing 747s, Boeing 767s and McDonnell Douglas 11s, he added.
Pujobroto said the winning bid would be announced by October this year, adding the aircraft would be expected to arrive in Indonesia in January 2001.
For the Haj pilgrimage this year, Garuda leased 11 wide-bodied aircraft -- four MD 11s and seven Boeing 767s, the newspaper said. It said about 200,000 Indonesian Haj pilgrims visited Mecca in Saudi Arabia this year.
Almost 90 percent of Indonesia's 210 million people are Muslims. The Indonesian government annually organizes the pilgrimage for its citizens, providing a full board and transport package.
The annual event is a month-long logistical challenge for the Indonesian government which has to co-ordinate documentation, food and transport, the newspaper said.
Islam requires Muslims who can afford it to perform the Haj pilgrimage to sacred Muslim sites in Saudi Arabia at least once in their life.
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)