By Garba Muhammad, Kaduna
The Managing Director of Skypower Captain Mohammed Joji has denied abandoning pilgrims in Saudi Arabia
Independent Hajj Reporters had exclusively reported that about 815 pilgrims to this year’s Hajj pilgrimage who travelled through various private tour operators have been left stranded for days by Skypower Aviation in Saudi Arabia before they were eventually airlifted to Nigeria.
The Managing Director of Skypower Captain Mohammed Joji, while reacting to the news on Saturday in Kaduna, said the company never abandon any passenger in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and they have only one last flight from Jeddah to Kano on Tuesday.
“We never abandon any passenger in KSA and we have only one flight remaining to Kano Nigeria on Tuesday, which is the last flight to Nigeria.
“All Hajj carriers have similar different kind of operational delay and challenges,” he insisted.
According to the MD, the report from received from their representative in Jedda, indicated that Skypower aircraft coming from Lagos to Jeddah to pick the passengers as scheduled on 28/8/19 was scheduled to arrive Jeddah by 23:35, ” but unfortunately due to fuel situation, it was delayed and the aircraft arrived Jeddah and picked the 274 passengers to Kano.”
“He wondered why there were no media reports of other airlines who allegedly had similar operational challenges”.
He said according to report available to him, ” Flynas has similar or even worse operational reason and took two aircraft load of over 1,000 passengers to the hotel for two days, but was not reported.
“Another delay occurred again where same Abuja passengers were taken to the hotel by the same carrier and airlifted today(Saturday), and it was not reported.”
Our efforts to reach the cooperate communication of Flynas to respond to the allegations made by the MD of Skypower proved abortive. However, a senior airport official who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity said that “it is mischievous for anyone to said Flynas abandoned pilgrims at any point throughout this return journey”
He told us that “currently Flynas is returning over 210, 000 hajj 2019 pilgrims from 17 different countries and it is only once that one of its aircraft developed a technical problem after all the pilgrims have been boarded”.
“The pilot signal that the aircraft cannot proceed on the journey and all the pilgrims were asked to disembark. We provide another aircraft the next day and the other set of pilgrims that were earlier scheduled and cancelled due to the challenge were airlifted back home”
“I am surprised that you are telling me that an aviation industry player is comparing a situation where pilgrims were brought to the airport even though they are not sure of aircraft and a case of pilgrims that have boarded an aircraft and it developed a technical problem. As I am talking to you, that aircraft is still not back on air”
“Let me narrate what happened. Sokoto state pilgrims have boarded and are about to depart when the aircraft developed a technical problem. By then, FCT pilgrims are already on their way to the airport because there is an aircraft that has departed from Nigeria that is meant to ferry the FCT pilgrims. It is now resolved that the aircraft coming back from Nigeria that was initially schedule for FCT be allocate to the Sokoto pilgrims that were disembarked. Then another aircraft was arranged for the FCT pilgrims the next day.
He went further to dispute the issue of scarcity of aviation fuel because according to him “we have been refuelling in Nigeria. We have refuelled in Kano and Lagos and even right now, one of flynas aircraft is in Kano refuelling and will soon be on air back to the Kingdom”
FROM MUHAMMAD KABIR KANO The National HAJJ Commission NAHCON, Hajj Sa…