The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has said that beginning from Wednesday, July 12, all the Nigerian licensed carriers would begin to operate their in-bound flight to Nigeria optimally.
This is just as the Saudi –designated Nigerian hajj air carrier, Flynas, has operated 22 flights from Saudi Arabia to Nigeria in the last seven days, evacuating 8,063 of the pilgrims.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that a total of 11,966 Nigerian pilgrims have been airlifted back to the country in the last one week.
While Flynas accounted for 8,063 of the pilgrims, the remaining 3,903 hujjajus were airlifted by Max Air, Aero Contractors, Azman Air and Air Peace combined.
The NAHCON spokesperson, Mousa Ubandawaki, in a statement on Tuesday, said: “This was the outcome of the high-level meeting between the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the Saudi authorities, General Authority on Civil Aviation (GACA) on the slow pace of the airlift operation.
“With the situation, Max Airline with three aircrafts on its fleet will be able to operate all the aircraft to Nigeria every day, the same with Aero Contractors, Air peace, Azman and Arik Air which is dedicated to the transportation of private tour operators.
”The new development is expected to ease the strain on the agitation of Nigerian pilgrims who have been anxious to return to Nigeria since the conclusion of the Hajj rites on the June 30.”
Meanwhile, Flynas is operating the flights from Hajj Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah to Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos; and Sultan Abubakar International Airport, Sokoto.
Official data obtained from the Command and Control Centre of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Tuesday evening revealed the five approved hajj air carriers have operated a total of 30 flights so far.
Flynas has transported 5,523 pilgrims in 14 flights to Sokoto Station, and 3,075 pilgrims to Lagos Station in eight flights, according to the official data.
The Managing Director of First Planet Travels – the General Sales Agent, GSA, of Flynas in Nigeria – Umar Kaila in an interview with journalists in Jeddah said the airline will conclude its inbound airlift ahead of schedule.
“Flynas is fully prepared to conclude its inbound airlifts ahead of schedule. We are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that all our assigned pilgrims are transported back to Nigeria in maximum comfort and safety,” he said.
Mr Kaila said, “as you witnessed during the outbound airlifts, our priority is the safe and comfortable transportation of our esteemed passengers on schedule. Like we did during the phase one operation, we have operated 24 flights so far on schedule without any delay or cancellation.”
The statistics have shown that Air Peace and Aero Contractors have operated one flight each, while Max Air operated four flights and Azman Air two flights since the beginning of the return journey on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.
Flynas has so far airlifted pilgrims from Sokoto, Lagos, Zamfara, Osun, Ogun, Kebbi, Borno states using the two operational centres in Lagos and Sokoto states.
The hajj commission has allocated 29,296 pilgrims to Flynas, 16, 326 to Max Air, 11,348 to Air Peace, 8,660 to Azman Air, and 7,833 to Aero Contractors.
With over 80 Nigerian adhoc staff on its payroll, Flynas has been in Nigeria since 2014 as part of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
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