The Union Cabinet approved the following for the Haj Operations 2012:
(i) 1,25,000 haj pilgrims would be covered by the Haj subsidy scheme.
(ii) Apart from PSF, UDF, ADF & Saudi Airport Taxes/Fees, each pilgrims would pay Rs.20,000/- as air fare. The balance cost of air travel arrangements would be borne by the Government.
(iii) The pilgrims would depart from 21 embarkation points in India. Gaya as an embarkation point has been introduced in place of Patna due to technical difficulties presently in operating direct flights from Patna.
This year the Haj flights would start on 17.9.2012.
The Ministry of External Affairs is the nodal Ministry for Haj matters. However, the air travel arrangements for pilgrims going on Haj through the Haj Committee of India are made by Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The number of pilgrims, the embarkation points and the fare to charged from each pilgrim is decided by the Cabinet every year. The element of cost of air travel arrangements in excess of the fare paid by the pilgrims is the Haj subsidy borne by the Government, which is called Haj subsidy. Untill 2009, the pilgrims were carried by Saudi Arabian Airlines on negotiated fares and by Air India on cost basis. From 2010, it was decided to select the airlines through a tendering process. Sealed bids are invited from all eligible airlines and the airline offering the lowest fare from an embarkation point is engaged to carry the haj pilgrims. For the Haj-2012 airlines would also be engaged through competitive bidding.