The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has concluded the inbound flights of Nigerian pilgrims, with 298 from Kaduna State, one from Bauchi State, and 16 officials of the commission.
The Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, made this known in a statement by the commission’s Deputy Director, Information and Publication, Malam Mousa Ubandawaki, on Monday.
At the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Hassan addressed the final group of Nigerian pilgrims and announced that the transportation of the Nigerian pilgrims had come to an end four days ahead of the commission’s deadline.
The chairman recalled that August 3 was initially fixed as the final day of operation, but the injection of an additional aircraft by Max Air and Flynas had helped to ease the tension and increase the tempo of the operation.
According to him, the operation of the 183rd shuttle flight brought to an end, the 2023 hajj operations.
Hassan said: “The airlift today marks the conclusion of the inbound flights of Nigerian pilgrims with the final transportation of 298 Kaduna pilgrims, one Bauchi State pilgrim, and 16 officials by Azman Airlines.
“The second phase of the operation, which began on July 4th, after the completion of the Hajj rites and the transportation of Sokoto State pilgrims by Flynas, was a rollercoaster of challenges and emotions.
“This was amplified by the non-provision of slots to the Nigerian Carriers by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority on Civil Aviation (GACA).
” But, after the resolution of the impasse following the intervention of the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, it has been smooth sailing.”
Hassan acknowledged the assistance of President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima in the successful organisation of the 2023 Hajj.
The chairman said that Shettima’s intervention enabled the commission to transfer its trapped funds to Saudi Arabia and also persuaded the General Authority on Civil Aviation (GACA) to allocate more slots to Nigerian airlines.
“I want to sincerely express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Nigerian Government, especially the President and Vice President, for their timely intervention and support all through these operations.
“Their invaluable support really contributed in no small way to achieving today’s success story,” he said.