The General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) in Saudi Arabia has extended landing permits of Nigerian Hajj carriers from July 4 to 6.
Spokeswoman for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Fatima Usara, stated this on Monday in a statement.
She explained that the extension was necessitated by excessive flight cancellations and flight delays. She said from June 10 to 13, nine flights were cancelled.
This, according to her, was due to reasons ranging from inability of some states’ pilgrims boards to secure basic travel allowance (BTA) for pilgrims, insufficient funds for visas and unavailable PCR test results.
Ms Usara revealed that 13 flights were cancelled with another 57 delayed take-offs, seven of which were in two digits, with the highest being 24 hours’ delay.
“It followed by 23 hours’ delay, 22 hours and lowest in this category are twice 10-hour delays. Only 13 flights left on schedule out of the 65 outbound flights so far witnessed from the country,” she added. “From Monday, July 4, the extension will commence to July 6 for one of the airlines whereas July 4 and 5 have been approved for the other airline.
“NAHCON sought the extension to enable it to transport its remaining pilgrims into the Kingdom for the 2022 Hajj. Out of the 43,008 pilgrims expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia from Nigeria, 27,359, inclusive of 527 staff as well as committees and board members, under the government quota have been conveyed,” Ms Usara further disclosed. “Similarly, over 5,000 out of the 8,097 Tour Operators’ pilgrims with valid visas were moved through scheduled flights and other arrangements.”
She reiterated that no pilgrim would be left behind as long as that individual has valid travel documents.
“To buttress this fact, frequency of outbound flights improved to seven take-offs on Sunday and at full capacity too. Thankfully, one of the carriers, FlyNas, with its four aircraft, will fly four times daily thereby moving 1,732 each day,” stressed the NAHCON spokeswoman.