The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria Monday concluded the in-bound airlift of Nigerian pilgrims from Saudi Arabia for the 2023 Hajj operations.
The NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, also thanked Nigerians for their support for the Hajj operations.
This was contained in a statement signed by the NAHCON Deputy Director of Information and Publications, Mousa Ubandawaki.
According to the Deputy Director: “The airlift today marks the conclusion of the in-bound flight of Nigerian pilgrims with the final airlift of 298 Kaduna pilgrims, one Bauchi State pilgrim and 16 officials by Azman Airlines coming four days ahead of the original date.
“The Second Phase of the Operation which began on 4th July, 2023 after the completion of the Hajj rites with the airlift of Sokoto State Pilgrims by Flynas was a rollercoaster of challenges and emotions which was amplified by the non-provision of slots to the Nigerian Carriers by the Saudi’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 a smooth-sailing.”
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Hassan expressed gratitude to all Nigerians for their support.
Ubandawaki said the NAHCON Chairman thanked Nigerians during his address to the last set of Nigerian pilgrims at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia before their departure to Nigeria.
Furthermore, the Deputy Director stated that Alhaji Hassan acknowledged the assistance of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Vice President, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, to the successful organisation of the 2023 Hajj.
The NAHCON Boss, according to the statement, stressed that the intervention of the Vice President enabled the Commission to transfer its trapped funds to Saudi Arabia and also persuade the General Authority on Civil Aviation to allocate more slots to Nigerian airlines.
He said: “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 this operations.
“Their invaluable support really contributed in no mean term to achieve today’s success story.”
It would be recalled that August 3 was initially fixed as the final day of operation, but the injection of additional aircraft by Max Air and Flynas helped to ease the tension and increase the tempo of the operation.