Messy Hajj airlift operation: Nigeria gets succour from S/Arabia


Pilgrims at Hajj in Saudi Arabia

By Salisu Sani-Idris

The fear that some Muslims who have paid for this year’s Hajj exercise was assuaged on Monday with the extension of landing permits for Nigerian Hajj carriers from July 4 to July 6 by the Saudi Arabia Civil Aviation (GACA)

The hajj airlift operation has so far bee characteried by excessive flight cancellations and flight delays.

From June 10 to June 13, nine flights were cancelled, according to Mrs Fatima Usara, the Assistant Director, Public Affairs Division, of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

This, she said, was due to reasons ranging from the inability of some States pilgrims’ boards to secure Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) for pilgrims, insufficient funds for Visas and unavailable PCR test results.

Meanwhile, she revealed that a total of 13 flights were cancelled with another 57 delayed take-offs, seven of which are in two digits, with the highest being 24 hours’ delay.

” It followed by 23 hours delay, 22 hours and lowest in this category are twice 10-hour delays. Only 13 flights are left on schedule out of the 65 outbound flights so far witnessed from the country.

” From Monday, July 4, the extension will commence to July 6 for one of the airlines whereas July 4 and 5 have been approved for another airline.

” NAHCON sought the extension to enable it to transport its remaining pilgrims into the Kingdom for 2022 Hajj.

” Out of the 43,008 pilgrims expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia from Nigeria, 27,359, inclusive of 527 staff as well as committees and board members, under the government quota have been conveyed.

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” Similarly, over 5,000 out of the 8,097 Tour Operators’ pilgrims with valid visas were moved through scheduled flights and other arrangements.”

She reiterated that no pilgrim would be left behind as long as that individual has valid travel documents.

” To buttress this fact, frequency of outbound flights improved to seven take-offs on Sunday and at full capacity too.

” Thankfully, one of the carriers, FlyNas, with its four aircraft, will fly four times daily thereby moving 1,732 each day.”

Usara, therefore, on behalf of the leadership of NAHCON appealed to intending pilgrims to remain calm and prepared for onward conveyance for the 2022 Hajj.

According to her, the commission regrets any tension and stress intending pilgrims might have experienced during this outbound journey to the holy land.

She said that the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Zikrullah Hassan commends Nigerian pilgrims’ resilience and prays that they all attain acceptable hajj whose reward is Jannat ul Firdaus.

”Hassan assured that NAHCON management will review the operations to make sure that such inconveniences are never repeated” she added.


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