Singapore

Alternative return flights arranged for Singaporeans in Mecca

Close to 300 Singaporeans who are in Mecca for umrah, a minor pilgrimage, are scheduled to return on alternative airlines, after Qatar Airways' licence was revoked by Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Mr Mustafa Jumat, vice-president of the Association of Muslim Travel Agents Singapore (Amtas), told The Straits Times yesterday that most Singaporeans have settled their return flight details. They also did not experience any major disruptions to their travel plans.

ASSIST

"Qatar Airways assisted them and directed them to alternative airlines," said Mr Jumat. Some of these alternatives include Malaysia Airlines, Etihad Airways and Emirates.

Although the schedules of Singaporeans in Mecca are largely unaffected, their return flight routes will differ, with different stopovers.

The disruptions started on Tuesday, when Saudi Arabia revoked Qatar Airways' licences and ordered it to close its offices within 48 hours.

The move came amid a diplomatic rift between Qatar and a powerful bloc in the Arab world - Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - who are accusing it of supporting terrorism across the region.

On its website, Qatar Airways indicated that all flights to the four states will be suspended "until further notice".

Should the ban continue, Mr Jumat said that alternative travel plans may be required for groups scheduled to go on pilgrimages in October and November this year. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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