Aero Contractors in collaboration with Umza Aviation Services has assured of speedy transportation of all Nigerian pilgrims to Hajj 2023 assigned to it back home within the shortest possible time.
Hon. Abubakar Maifata, the Chairman of Umza Aviation Services, who is coordinating the 2023 Hajj operation for the two companies, gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Makkah.
NAN reports that Aero contractors is one of the Nigerian air carriers approved by the Federal Government to transport about 7,318 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and back to Nigeria.
Maifata stated that the airline had since begun the outbound movement of the Nigerian pilgrims despite constraints arising from lack of adequate slots at the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah.
According to him, the airline has so far done one flight with about 475 pilgrims of Nasarawa State.
“But we are constraint with lack of adequate slots given to us by the Saudi authority to operate within King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah. And this didn’t apply only to the Aero Contractors, it is applicable to all the Nigerian carriers.
“However, we held series of meetings with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on how to get out of the situation so that the Nigerian carriers can have adequate slots to transport pilgrims back to home.
“And I think it was agreed at the meeting that slots will be given to the Nigerian carriers and they have promised to do that between now to 15 of this month (July).”
He revealed that presently Aero contractors had secured additional two slots to transport pilgrims on July 12 and 13.
“As I’m talking to you, we were given two slots to operate on the July 12 and 13, and I am sure all the Nigerian carriers were given, some two, three to four slots to operate between now and July 14, and they promised also to make more slots available after July 15.
“We only did one flight on July 8 with 475 passengers from Nasarawa State and we hope to do second and third flight on July 12 and 13, respectively.”
The chairman appealed to all Nigerian pilgrims to exercise more patience and consider their continued stay in Saudi Arabia as an act of worship.
“I want to use this opportunity to, on behalf of all the Nigerian carriers, to appeal to all Nigerian pilgrims to be more patient. I want to assure them that all the problems are being resolved.
“And God willing in the next one to two days they will see lots of movement of pilgrims back home. It’s something that is not intentional on any part from the Nigerian air carriers.
“It’s a situation that we found ourselves and a lot of efforts are being made and solutions are being gotten and in the next couples of hours everything will be ok. I want to assure them that all the Nigerian air carriers are equal to the task,” said Maifats.
NAN reports that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), on Saturday said the commission was yet to get additional approval for the outbound 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 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 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 Nigeria. (NAN)
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