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Hajj: Airlines threaten service withdrawal over payment delays

Airlines operating the 2024 Hajj are expressing dissatisfaction over delayed payments from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), which is jeopardising the return airlift…

Airlines operating the 2024 Hajj are expressing dissatisfaction over delayed payments from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), which is jeopardising the return airlift of pilgrims following the completion of the Hajj exercise.

Daily Trust learned that at least three airlines – Max Air, Air Peace and FlyNas -were contracted by the NAHCON to transport pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2024 Hajj.

According to the contractual agreement, the NAHCON was supposed to pay 50 per cent of the airfare to the airlines before the commencement of the first leg of airlift to Saudi Arabia to facilitate logistical planning and preparations.

However, one airline operator revealed that the initial 50 per cent payment was not received until after the completion of the first leg of airlift. Additionally, the contract stipulates that an additional 35 per cent payment should be made immediately after the commencement of airlift operations.

“We completed the airlift before receiving the initial 50 per cent; and now, we are beginning the return leg while still awaiting payment, with NAHCON citing delay in processing the funds through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),” one operator who preferred anonymity said.

Another operator expressed concern over the financial strain on airlines, emphasising that they continue operations out of a sense of duty despite facing overhead charges for flight paths, payments to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), and service providers like ground handling firms.

“If the situation persists, airlines may have no choice but to consider withdrawing their services. The initial agreement required 50 per cent payment upfront to facilitate proper preparation, but now, we find ourselves in this situation,” the operator explained.

An official from the NAHCON acknowledged the payment delays but assured that efforts were underway to resolve the issue promptly.

“The funds are being processed through the CBN and steps are being taken to expedite the payment. We anticipate that the matter would be resolved soon,” the official disclosed on condition of anonymity.

The ongoing delays have sparked concerns among stakeholders about the potential impact on future Hajj operations and the need for timely financial commitments to airlines involved.

 

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