Kozhikode: Air India Express on Thursday operated India’s first all-women Haj flight. The first all-women Haj flight, IX 3025, carried 145 women pilgrims and six women crew.
The flight departed from Kozhikode at 6:45 pm and arrived in Jeddah at 10:45 local time, Air India said in a statement.
It was the first flight from Kerala for women pilgrims without mehram or a male companion. Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla flagged off the flight.
Barla said the women-only flight marked a glorious step for women empowerment in the country. The Union Minister also handed the boarding pass to 76-year-old Sulaikha Karthikappalli from Kozhikode, who was the eldest pilgrim of the group, a report in The Hindu said.
The flight was piloted by Kanika Mehra from Punjab. She was assisted by co-pilot Garima Passi. The four members of the cabin crew were MB Bijita, Darpana Rana, Sushama Sharma, and Subhangi Biswas.
Moreover, the ground handling staff and those who welcomed the pilgrims were also women.
There will be 16 women-only Haj flights from Kerala – 12 from Karipur, three from Kannur, and one from Kochi. As many as 2,733 women above 45 years of age are going for Haj from Kerala this year without a male companion, The Hindu reported.
On Wednesday, the first batch of 630 pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir and 150 pilgrims from Telangana left for Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage.
In Telangana, the pilgrims departed from Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport for Jeddah on a special flight operated by Vistara Airlines. According to an IANS report, the pilgrims embarked on their journey amid the chanting of ‘Talbiyah’, which is a special prayer invoked during the Haj pilgrimage.
In J&K, the pilgrims left in two flights, carrying 315 passengers each. There were 339 male pilgrims and 291 female pilgrims in total.