Nigeria’s inaugural flight to this year’s Hajj pilgrimage which was flagged off by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday took about seven and half hours to fly from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja to Prince Mohammed Bn Abdulaziz Airport, Madina.
The Max Air flight VM3001 carrying 472 pilgrims from Nasarawa state took from Abuja at about 18:24 Nigerian time and arrived Madina at about 03:05am, Saudi Time. It therefore, mean, Thursday’s flight from Abuja to Madina took 6:41 minutes.
Flights from Abuja to Madina used to take about four and a half hours flying Chad Republic and Sudan before crossing the Redsea to get to Saudi Arabia.
With the closure of Sudanese airspace due to the ongoing conflict,checks by HAJJ REPORTERS through flight radar 24 shows that the Boeing 747 flew over Cameroon, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea before crossing the Redsea to Saudi Arabia.
All the domestic airlines selected to ferry Nigerian Pilgrims had requested an additional payment of $250 per pilgrims to cover the cost of the longer route. However, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) facilitated government’s intervention and got President Buhari’s approval to waiver 100% government charges which brought the difference to about a little over $100.
NAHCON subsequently deducted $100 from pilgrims Basic Travel Allowances (BTA) to settle the difference without asking the pilgrims to pay more money.