The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has commenced screening of air carriers for 2019 Hajj airlift.
The opening event held Tuesday at the Stonehedge Hotel, Abuja.
The exercise was to inaugurate a committee saddled with the responsibility of assessing applications by airlines wishing to ferry Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabi for Hajj 2019.
Fatima Usara, the spokesperson of NAHCON, said in a statement that the committee would, in addition to selecting suitable air carriers, also select cargo freighters.
She said the committee, which has NAHCON’s Commissioner Operations, Modibbo Saleh, as chairman, has members drawn from aviation, financial crimes institutions, customs, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, NAHCON Board members, and representatives of Chief Executives of State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards.
In his opening remarks, NAHCON Chairman, Abdullahi Muhammad, reminded the members that their job is a trust on behalf of pilgrims who will bear the consequences of the committee’s final decisions.
Mrs Usara said members of the committee were admonished to “insist for the best services on behalf of the pilgrims”.
Mrs Usara said “seven air carriers applied for the 2019 Hajj airlift exercise and the screening is already in progress”.
She said Mr Mohammed also advised the committee to remain guided by the criteria crafted by the different sister sectors of government in determining those carriers that will qualify.
“Barrister Muhammad congratulated the air carriers for declaring interest to participate in airlifting Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, and urged them to take in good faith any outcome of the screening exercise,” she said.
“As for those who will scale through the screening, NAHCON’s Chairman called on them to explore the possibility of doing business with Private Tour Operators in conveying their pilgrims numbering up to 20,000.”
She said doing this would reduce the hitches experienced yearly.
She also said others who spoke at the occasion included representatives of Chairpersons, Senate and House Committees on Foreign Affairs: Monsurat Sunmonu and Nnenna Ukeje respectively.
Three Airlines, two domestic and one foreign, ferried Nigerian pilgrims during Hajj 2018. They are Max Air, Medview Air, and Flynas, a Saudi Arabia based airline.