Prepare for timely airlift of pilgrims, CSO urges hajj carriers

Ahead of the 2023 Hajj operation, the Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a civil society organisation that monitors and reports hajj and umrah in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, has charged the appointed hajj carriers to brace up for quality and timely airlifts of Nigeria intending pilgrims.

Last week, NAHCON chairman, Alhaji Zikrmullah Kunle Hassan, said that President Muhammadu Buhari approved Airpeace, Azman Air, FlyNas, Aero Contractors, and Max Air for the pilgrims this year. He also approved Arik Air and Value Jet as chartered aircraft for tour operators.

In his reaction, IHR national coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed, in a statement in Abuja Monday noted that airlift operations differ from the routine international or local flights accustomed to by the selected airliners, especially the new entrants.

The statement reads: “Hajj is tied to the day of Arafat and the day of Arafat is not amenable to change like other worldly events that can be delayed or postponed.

‘’Airlift of pilgrims constitutes the core aspect of hajj operations because hajj takes place in Saudi Arabia – as such, all registered intending pilgrims must be flown to the holy land to perform the spiritual exercise.

“He urged the selected airliners to realise that delays would amount to denying the intending pilgrims the opportunity to perform rituals of the hajj as and when due.

“He called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), the apex hajj regulatory body, to ensure full implementations of all the service agreements with the airliners, adding that plans should be on ground to replace erring airliners.

‘’NAHCON should understand that Nigerians and hajj stakeholders will hold them responsible if they fail to act when service providers fail in delivering their assigned responsibilities,’’ he said.

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