No additional approval yet for transportation of pilgrims through Jeddah airport – NAHCON

Sun, Jul 9, 2023
By editor
4 MIN READ

Religion

THE National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says the commission is yet to get additional approval for the inbound movement of pilgrims to Nigeria through King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The NAHCON’s Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Hardawa, made this known at a news conference on Saturday in Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He, however, said that the Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) had invited airlines responsible for the transportation of Nigerian pilgrims to an operational meeting.

He said that the officials of NAHCON were also part of the meeting, adding that at the end of the meeting the commission might have slots approved for the transportation of pilgrims back to Nigerians.

“Up to this very moment I’m telling you no additional approval have been given for the transportation of pilgrims through King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah.

“The Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has invited airlines for a meeting this evening. Our officials are also attending the meeting and we hope by the end of the meeting we will have slots approved.

“And then transportation of pilgrims to Nigeria will commence in earnest involving all the approved carriers. As of now only the Flynas, a Saudi Arabian designated airline is actively flying out.

“Then with the Air Peace, Aero Contractors and Azman airlines were getting flight slots here and there which will not be satisfactory,” he said.

Hardawa explained that because of slot constraint, the commission had an aged long policy of ensuring justice to the pilgrims by trying to maintain the sequence of arrival into the Kingdom by all the pilgrims.

“That is respecting the principle of first-in-first-out, last-in-last-out. One will wonder as of now so many pilgrims have departed to Nigeria. As I’m talking to you almost 7,000 pilgrims under the states quota have been returned to Nigeria.

“We have carried out about 17 flights yet Nasarawa State pilgrims who had the opportunity of coming first are still in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One will wonder what went wrong ? Why are we jettisoning that principle of first-in-first-out.

“We have not. We are compelled by the circumstances. Flynas, a Saudi based carrier, was able to secure all the slots it required to fly out all the pilgrims allocated to it from Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Niger, Lagos and Osun States and it has been busy doing that.”

He said that Aero contractors, who are the carriers of Nasarawa state pilgrims would transport first flight of Nasarawa pilgrims to Nigeria today (June 8).

“Subsequent flights will depend on the outcome of the meeting currently taking place in Jeddah between GACA, air carriers and the officials of NAHCON.

“If additional slots are approved, particularly to Aero contractors, then it will be able to continue to transport Nasarawa pilgrims on back to back basis without any break.”

He therefore appealed to all Nigerian pilgrims to exercise more patience and continue to have confidence in the commission, which is not unmindful of their concern.

On his part, Sheikh Sulayman Momoh, the Commissioner Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library Services of the commission, expressed concern over the prevalence of pregnant women to this year’s Hajj.

He said the commission would review the incidents with a view to sanctioning those found to have violated laid down rules and guidelines governing pregnancies.

He said if NAHCON would drop its pregnant female staff, there was no reason for states not so do.

Momoh stated that NAHCON expected effective collaboration with state pilgrim boards, agencies and commissions to ensure smooth operation before, during and after the Hajj operation. (NAN)

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July 9, 2023 @ 7:10 GMT|

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