The selection of Azman Air to transport intending pilgrims by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), has been rejected by some states which is causing anxiety among pilgrims.
Azman Airline was one of the three airlines engaged by NAHCON to ferry pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
According to the commission, Azman Air is entrusted with conveyance of pilgrims from 16 states and the Armed Forces. The states are Kano, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, and Yobe states.
Days into the commencement of airlift, the two other Airlines engaged, Max and Flynas had been transporting pilgrims from their assigned states, but Azman is yet to commence.
HAJJ REPORTERS contacted some state officials to find out the cause of the delay.
One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “we have already complained to NAHCON over the imposition of Azman as official Hajj carrier of my state pilgrims”.
He said the rejection of Azman is based on operational antecedent of the Airline and “their capacity to airlift such number of pilgrims assign to them within the little time before the closure of King AbdulAziz international airport in Jeddah”.
“Look, I am not contending the technical criteria used by NAHCON to screen the airlines, but how can NAHCON allocate the two states with the largest number of pilgrims to a new entrant into the industry with questionable capacity and experience in Hajj airlift,” he queried.
He said airlift of Pilgrims is not like domestic flights because it is strictly time based.
Reacting, the Hajj and Umrah Manager of Azman, Alh Nura said there is no such issue as rejection of Azman by states pilgrims boards. “Though, there are some states that are used to been airlifted by other airlines in previous Hajj operations and they might not be comfortable with us owing to some reasons. But you know that it was #NAHCON that assign states to us.
“We are supposed to begin with Kaduna but we are hampered with the issue of #NCAA listing of Kaduna among airport that cannot operate international flights for now due to insecurity. The state government on the other hand wants their pilgrims to be airlifted from Kaduna state.
“From all indications, Kaduna State pilgrims may be airlifted through Kano, That is the conclusion for now,” Alhaji Nura said.
He also added that the Airline is “currently in Lagos getting ready to airlift the pilgrims by tomorrow God willing. It is not true that any state has rejected Azman airline, “he said.
According to NAHCON, Seven airlines; Max Air, FlyNas, Azman Air, Med-View Airline, Skypower Express, Westlink Airlines and Arik Air, applied to airlift pilgrims this year.
The commission said after a screening exercise by a competent committee saddled with the responsibility, “those selected ranked the best three whose names were forwarded to the presidency for approval before sealing the contract agreement”.
“States allocated to specific airlines are as follows: Max Air is to fly pilgrims from 13 states namely-Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau and Taraba. Azman Air is entrusted with conveyance of pilgrims from 16 states and the Armed Forces. The states are Kano, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, and Yobe. Meanwhile, FlyNas would fly pilgrims from Edo, FCT- Abuja, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Zamfara- making eight states”.