The Saudi –designated Nigerian hajj air carrier, Flynas, has airlifted 18,017 intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for 2023 hajj.
This was revealed by the Managing Director of the General Sales Agent (GSA) of Flynas in Nigeria, Alhaji Umar Kaila, in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
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The pilgrims airlifted in 45 flights, represents about 63 percent of the 29,296 pilgrims allocated to the airline. The air carrier has been allocated pilgrims from Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Niger, Borno, Yobe, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara states.
Mr Kaila said Flynas airlifted more than half of its allocated pilgrims “on schedule. This is apart from the rescue operations we conducted for some states like Nasarawa, among others.”
He said Flynas has positioned six aircraft for the 2023 hajj operation, but only deployed five so far. The airline operates from Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Sultan Abubakar International Airport Sokoto, and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has allocated 29,296 pilgrims to Flynas, 16, 326 to Max Air, 11,348 to Air Peace, 8,660 to Azman Air, and 7,833 to Aero Contractors.
Flynas, which employs over 60 Nigerians adhoc staff every year during hajj operations, has been in Nigeria since 2014 as part of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
Hajj flight updates obtained from the NAHCON’s Command and Control Centre on Sunday evening revealed that Flynas operated 45 of the 101 total flights by the approved air carriers.
The commission has so far airlifted a total of 42,571 pilgrims mostly to Madinah for hajj.
The official data indicates that Max Air has so far airlifted 12,327 pilgrims in 23 flights, and Azman Air ferried 2,750 pilgrims in three flights.
Aero Contractors has airlifted 6,025 pilgrims in seven flights; while Air Peace transported 3,206 pilgrims in 12 flights.
The hajj commission has begun airlifting Nigerian pilgrims from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Thursday, May 25, 2023.