The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the four local airlines that will airlift Nigerian pilgrims for this year’s hajj Tuesday reached an agreement.
The airlines are Aero Contractors, Air Peace, Azman Air and Max Air.
Their representative, had, last week declined to sign the agreement owing to the conflict in Sudan that would require rerouting which they feared might lead to an additional cost.
But at the rescheduled signing in Abuja Tuesday, the airlines signed the agreement “without any changes”, according to the chairman of NAHCON, Zikrullah Hassan.
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In a statement by the Deputy Director, Information and Publications of NAHCON,
Mousa Ubandawaki, the chairman praised the “patriotic zeal of the airlines for their sacrifices in the face of the challenge posed by the Sudan crisis.
“We are not unmindful of the challenge posed by the closure of the Sudan airspace to your hajj operation; however, I wish to appeal to your conscience and sense of patriotism not to further burden the pilgrim with additional costs or changes”.
Managing Director, Aero Contractors, Ado Sanusi, said the airlines were not unmindful of the plight of pilgrims who had earlier paid their hajj fare before the crisis broke out, explaining that “we are constrained to take that decision because of logistic and operational needs. We won’t like anything that will disrupt our operation halfway”.
Chairman, Air Peace, Allen Onyeama, said their call for the review of the Airlift Agreement with NAHCON was not to exploit the Sudan crisis for business gains or opportunities.
“We care for the Nigerian pilgrims, many of whom we know have made personal sacrifices in paying for Hajj. We are also mindful of the fact that the pilgrims had already paid before this crisis broke out. We don’t want to deprive them of this opportunity to make the journey to the Holy land. We are doing it for national pride.”