The Chairman of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Zikrullah Hassan, has said the four local airlines to airlift Nigerian pilgrims for the 2023 Hajj exercise have requested that the hajj fare be increased by $250.
According to him, the airlines – Air Peace, Azman, Max Air and Aero Contractors – based the request on the crisis in Sudan, which would require a longer travel time to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Recall that the airlines had refused to sign the airlift agreement with NAHCON due to the additional financial cost using another route.
Speaking in Abuja during a training exercise organised for staff of NAHCON, state pilgrim boards and private tour operators on Saturday, Hassan assured that the pilgrims would not be asked to bear the additional cost.
“Our local airlines after several negotiations accepted the sum of $250 to the increase in the cost of air ticket for this year’s operation. We are still looking for all avenues to resolve the attendant consequence of this money. We are still paying earnestly for a quick and peace resolution to the conflict in Sudan so that the airspace could be open and there will be a stop to the mindless killing of the people of Sudan.”
“At NAHCON, we are looking for all ways to ensure that we resolve the issue of this additional cost. We have decoded that whatever decision we will take, it will not require the pilgrims to pay additional fund into the hands of the respective pilgrim boards in their state. They will not need to pay more money.”
He added that the commission has slated May 25 for the first airlift of pilgrims out of the country.
“We have mapped out a 25 days strategic airlift operation plan that will commence on the 25th of May 2023. However, we are ready and decided to move our advance team, comprising medical and hajj officials to move to Saudi Arabia on 21st of May. We pray that the 2023 hajj will witness great improvement”