Heritage Reporter

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CSO commends air carriers for understanding in lifting 2023 Hajj pilgrims

A Civil Society Organization, Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), has commended the seven airlines selected by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for this year’s pilgrimage for their understanding in the face of government failure in meeting its part of agreement on the airlift of pilgrims to the holy land.


NAHCON had chosen seven airlines, including Max Air, Azman, Air Peace, Aero Contractors, Ari Air, Value Jet, and Saudi-based Flynas, for the airlift operations of Hajj 2023.

The payments to these airlines for the airlift exercise were agreed upon in United States Dollars, as is customary for international travel. However, at the start of the exercise, they had not yet received the necessary funds.

In a statement released on Saturday, IHR, signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Mohammed, appreciated the commitment of the airlines.

The statement expressed awareness that, according to the agreement with the airlines, NAHCON was expected to pay at least 50% of the total amount due to them before the commencement of the airlift of intending pilgrims.

“We are aware that after receiving all deposits from across the states, FCT, and the armed forces, NAHCON proceeded to deposit these funds into its accounts at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The normal practice is for the apex bank to provide the dollar equivalent of the deposited funds based on the approved official rates for disbursement by NAHCON to meet its obligations.

“However, we are saddened to note that despite repeated appeals, the CBN could not provide the required foreign exchange equivalent not only before the commencement of airlift on May 25 but even almost three weeks after.

“Nevertheless, it is gratifying to note that, despite not receiving the necessary funds from Nigerian authorities, the airlines have continued to offer full services and have done a wonderful job so far. Over 50,000 pilgrims have been airlifted to Saudi Arabia by these airlines, which is commendable and patriotic,” the statement reads.

IHR also acknowledges that, as a result of relentless efforts by various stakeholders and the recent change of leadership at the CBN, the necessary authorization has been received, and NAHCON is poised to receive the due amounts for disbursement.

“We urge all concerned parties to ensure that everything needed ahead of the second leg of the airlift, which is expected to commence immediately after the Hajj rites, is taken care of,” IHR concluded.

IHR comprised of Nigerian journalists who monitor and report on activities in the Hajj and Umrah industry.

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