Airlift of Pilgrims: 9 airline set for screening, NCAA insists on verified aircraft
Air Peace, Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Azman, Max Air, Sky power Express, United Nigeria Airline and Value jet are among Nigerian airlines that have indicated interest to airlift 95,000 intending pilgrims for the 2023 hajj exercise with Flynas is the only international airline in the group bringing the carriers to nine.
This is just as the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said all airlines applying must prove they have the equipment to carry out the exercise.
The airlines submitted their bids yesterday at the headquarters of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Wednesday where a committee is set to present selected airlines for the exercise by March 7, 2023.
Speaking during the submission and inauguration screening of the committee for airline and cargo companies, the chairman of NAHCON, Zikrullah Adekunle Hassan, stated that the inaugural flight for the pilgrimage is on May 21.
While stating that committee is responsible for all technical issues regarding airport and aircraft, he urged all intending pilgrims to conclude their registration with the state welfare board or the hajj savings scheme on or before March 7 because this year’s registration will be closed in due course to meet with the deadline by the Saudi government.
On his part, the Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, said all the airlines must prove they have verifiable aircraft before they will be considered.
Nuhu said any operator that does not meet its schedule during the exercise, without a reasonable excuse, would be penalised.
He added that some airports do not meet the basic requirement of operating big airports, which leads to waste of hours before they embark on the journey.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had lamented the use of many airports in the country for Hajj operations.
Recall that the DG CAA in a meeting last year with the Ministry of Aviation, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and other stakeholders with a delegation of the Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), led by its president, Abdulaziz A. Duailej in Abuja lamented that many of the airports used for the operation are without sufficient facilities or capacity for international flight operations.
According to him, the NCAA had set up a committee that reviewed and identified lapses in the 2022 Hajj operations.
He informed that the findings and recommendations of the committee would soon be made known to the relevant bodies.
Recall that in December 2022, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia restored 95,000 Hajj slots to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), ahead of this year’s Holy pilgrimage.
The number was scaled down during the COVID -19 Pandemic but the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has approved the pre-COVID-19 allocation to the country.
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