The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has backed down on its promise that pilgrims won’t pay extra cost over the $250 increase in airfare.
Daily Trust reports that the local airlines involved in Hajj operations had requested that Hajj fare be increased by $250 over the crisis in Sudan, which would require a longer travel time to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Sudanese airspace has been shut since crisis erupted in April.
But speaking in Abuja during a training exercise organised for staff of NAHCON, state pilgrim boards and private tour operators, Zikrullah Hassan, NAHCON Chairman, had assured that the pilgrims would not be asked to bear the additional cost.
UN Human Rights Council meets today as fighting in Sudan continues
“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.”
But in a statement on Monday, NAHCON’s Deputy Director of Information, Moisa Ubandawaki, said the commission decided that the pilgrims would pay 40 percent ($100) of the hike in airfare after the federal government subsidised operations for airlines to make the airlift.
“This would further alleviate the additional cost of the airfare on the Nigerian pilgrims. The government had earlier waived 65% of the aviation charges to bring down the cost of Hajj. With this development, the $250 addition negotiated with the airlines will be reduced by $55,” the statement read.
“The liability of the remaining $195 will be borne by the 75,000 pilgrims which is calculated at $117 per pilgrim to offset the $117 without causing additional financial obligations on the Pilgrims, the Commission resolved to reduce the Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) for 2023 Hajj Pilgrims to the sum of $700 against $800.00 provided in the Hajj package already paid by the pilgrims.”
Ubandawaki said NAHCON had sought understanding of the air carriers for the remaining $17 which would serve as discount to the pilgrims “who are also victims of the Sudan airspace closure.”
He added that if the Sudanese airspace is cleared for normal flight either before the commencement of the airlift or at any point of the operation, appropriate refunds would be made to the pilgrims.
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