Eleven travel agencies are charging Tk 20,000 to Tk 30,000 extra for each ticket sold to hajj pilgrims despite strict warning from Religious Affairs Ministry, according to RAB intelligence report.
Those agencies are selling each ticket for around Tk1.50 lakh, although the Religion Affairs Ministry has set the price at Tk1.28 lakh.
According to Civil Aviation directives, Saudi Airlines Dhaka office is authorised to allocate 63, 599 tickets to around three hundred travel agencies this year.
However, the airlines, defying the directive, allocated 54,090 tickets to 11 travel agencies and the rest to 70 travel agencies. About 219 agencies did not get any tickets, the report said.
With the extra fare, the ticketing agencies are going to make more than TK100 crore additional profit from pilgrims.
Those agencies allegedly got the tickets by ‘managing’ the Dhaka office of Saudi Airlines.
Sunshine Express Travel agency got the highest 12,970 tickets while Versatile Travels And Tours Limited got the least, 1,100 tickets.
And those agencies are overcharging people by creating an artificial crisis of tickets.
According to sources, tickets of Biman Bangladesh Airlines are already sold out while Saudi Airlines has finished selling 80 percent of the tickets.
A total of 127,198 pilgrims are heading to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj this year.
Managing Director of Gazi Travels M Sayem M Hasan and Saudi Airlines did not respond when this correspondent contacted them over this issue.
Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) president M Sahadat Hossain Taslim suggested that including more airlines besides these two in providing tickets might remove the problem, adding what Saudi airlines did was not right.
Civil Aviation authority is responsible to look into this matter, he added.
Receiving allegation from several stakeholders against the hajj agencies, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) led by magistrate Sarwar Alam conducted a mobile court at several agencies in the capital’s Nayapaltan area and fined 6 travel agencies Tk65 lakh on June 25.
During the drive, the mobile court found proof of the allegations and fined Tk10 lakh each to Hasem Air International, Challengers Travels and Tours, Golden Bengal Tours and Travels, and Al Gazi Travels, while Sunshine Express Travels Incorporation and Dhaka Shahjalal Travels were fined Tk20 lakh and Tk5 lakh respectively.