No fewer than seven airlines have indicated interest in participating in the 2020 airlift of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia at the bid opening conducted by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
Arik Air, one of the nation’s domestic carriers, is one of the new airlines that is indicating interest to participate in the airlift though it had made similar attempt in the past.
Other airlines, who participated in the bidding process which was opened in Abuja yesterday, were two Saudi Airlines – FlyNas and Sky Prime; Med-View Airline, Max Air, Azman Air and Sky Power.
It would be recalled that during the 2019 Hajj airlift, four airlines participated, including Max Air, Med-View, FlyNas and Skypower.
At the bid opening attended by NAHCON management team as well as aviation authorities, including the representatives of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the airlines also proposed air fare for each of the passengers.
The fares proposed by airlines range from $1400 to $1900 while most of them even reduced the fare at the venue.
It would be recalled that last year, the airlines charged between $1,650 to $1,700 per passenger.
The fare proposed by airline for the South is, however, slightly higher than the one for the pilgrims from the Northern part of the country because of the closeness to Saudi Arabia.
An official of NAHCON, who spoke with our correspondent Thursday, said the next stage after the bid opening is the screening process where the data provided by the intending carriers would be verified.
“Besides, the airlines would also sit down with our team to negotiate while the qualified carriers would be shortlisted. The commission will now forward the shortlisted airlines to the President for approval,” the official added.
Daily Trust learnt that, to ensure the smooth airlift of pilgrims, the commission is proposing a separate carrier for licensed tour operators.
For this category, two airlines – Azman and Westlink Air Services applied, quoting between $1800 and $1850.
Also, four companies applied for the air freight of excess luggage. They are; Cargo Zeal; Esteem Cargo and Tour, Sopodake Global Marine Services and NAHCO Aviance.