The Executive Secretary, Kano State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Muhammad Abba Dambatta has said that the State Government has rejected an airline, AZMAN Air designated for airlift of their pilgrims for 2022 Hajj exercise.
He said that “As I’m talking to you now, our stand is still on Max Air and no going back I have paid Hajj deposit money of 60 percent, we have met all the requirements and the 19th date of our commencement of airlift is sacrosanct and we have informed Max Air to get ready no going back.’’
It will be recalled that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) signed an agreement with three airlines for the 2022 Hajj exercise.
It will also be noted that the airlines are Max Air, Azman Air and FlyNas. The former two are Nigerian-based, while FlyNas is a Saudi Arabian-based airline.
Alhaji Dambatta, disclosing this on Tuesday in Kano added that they were surprised at NAHCON’s attitude in selecting airlines for states which has gone against the norms and practices of Hajj Operations over the years.
According to him based on the several meetings were held with NAHCON officials both in Mecca and Abuja, and the Commission only told them that they have forwarded compiled names of proposed airlines to the Presidency for approvals.
The two other Airlines engaged for the exercise, Max and Flynas have been transporting pilgrims from their assigned states since 9th of June but Azman is yet to commence.
While speaking on condition of anonymity, a pilgrim Welfare board official of one of the designated states attached to AZMAN Air for the Hajj exercise, said “we have already complained to NAHCON over the imposition of Azman as official Hajj carrier of my state pilgrims”.
He however added that the rejection of Azman is based on operational antecedent of the Airline and “their capacity to airlift such number of pilgrims assigned to them within the little time before the closure of King AbdulAziz international airport in Jeddah”.
He queried further that “Look, I am not contending the technical criteria used by NAHCON to screen the airlines, but how can NAHCON allocate the two states with the largest number of pilgrims to a new entrant into the industry with questionable capacity and experience in Hajj airlift.”
He however stated that the airlift of Pilgrims is not like domestic flights because it is strictly time-bound.
In his reaction, the General Manager Azman Air who spoke to our correspondent through the phone, Alhaji Lawan Garba, said there is no such issue as the rejection of Azman by states pilgrims boards.
According to him “Though, there are some states that are used to been airlifted by other airlines in previous Hajj operations and they might not be comfortable with us owing to some reasons. But you know that it was NAHCON that assigned states to us.”