Afghan Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs Faiz Mohammad Osmani said on Saturday that this year about 30,000 Afghans will attend Hajj and of those 500, who are family members of martyrs, will be sponsored by government.
The first flight left Hamid Karzai International Airport for Medina in Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning carrying 345 pilgrims.
Osmani said a private charter airline company would fly the pilgrims to Hajj this year and that about 88 flights over 25 days have been scheduled.
MPs have however called on government to ensure the Hajj program is managed properly this year and that the Hajj ministry supervises services delivered by all private companies.
The ministry said Hajj flights started in Kabul and Herat but others would soon leave from Kandahar and Balkh airports.
Last year over 25,000 pilgrims from Afghanistan attended Hajj.