The ongoing crisis in Sudan has stopped the five selected Nigerian airlines from signing agreements to airlift Nigerian intending pilgrims to Hajj 2023 in Saudi Arabia.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) had announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved Saudi based Flynas and other Nigerian airlines including Max Air Air Peace, Azman Air, Aero Contractors, Arik Air and Value Jet to fly Nigerian pilgrims. While the first five were selected to fly pilgrims from the 36 states and FCT, Arik and Value jet were selected to offer chatter services to pilgrims travelling under private tour operators.
NAHCON had invited the approved airlines for a signing agreement in Thursday at the Hajj House headquarters of the commission. However, only the Saudi based Flynas signed the agreement while the representatives of other Nigerian airlines declined.
Explaining the reasons for the other airlines to sign the agreement, the commissioner in charge of operations at NAHCON, Magaji Hardawa said the conflict in Sudan has put the airlines in a difficult position. He explained that all the airlines will now require longer flight paths to get to Saudi Arabia.
“Airlines are business entities and we want them to be happy and profitable. They are reluctant to sign the agreements not because they are greedy. So we agree with them to go back and consult further,” he said.
The commissioner said the Airlines have agreed to return Tuesday next week for the signing of the agreement.
He also said Flynas agreed to sign because of an existing Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and “are conscious of their diplomatic status”.
Also speaking, NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikirullah Kunle Hassan said the representatives of the selected Nigerian airlines have agreed that their Chief Executive Officers will now be responsible for the agreement with the commission.
“This is simply because of the crisis in Sudan. We require all kinds of goodwill to help is in prayer to Allah to bring back peace in the Sudan,” he said.
The NAHCON boss however, stated that the commission have no intention of reviewing the Hajj fare upwards saying “we know intending pilgrims are not in a position to pay more. So we will wear our thinking caps and find a better solution”
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