President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval for seven airlines which the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) will operate with this year.
According to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, Air Peace, Azman Air, Flynas, Aero Contractors and Max Air, will fly pilgrims from the 36 states and FCT, while Arik Air and Value Jet Air will serve as chattered flights for the Licensed Tour Operators.
He said that NAHCON and State Pilgrims Boards have agreed to close the portal for new registration of intending pilgrims who are going through the Hajj Saving Scheme for Hajj on April 7.
He said ”After deliberations with the Chief Executives of the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards, we have agreed on the day that the intending pilgrims must complete their money. Secondly, we have also agreed that today April 7, we are closing the portal for new registration of intending pilgrims who are going through the Hajj Saving Scheme for Hajj.
But we have also agreed that April 21, which is two weeks from today will be the day for the final remittance of funds by those who want to go to hajj either through the hajj saving scheme or through the normal pay as go. We have also agreed that May 21, 2023, will be the day for the inaugural flight for the 2023 Hajj.”
Also, the Executive Chairman, Yobe Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mai Aliyu Usmam, said all the states executives were part of the decision on the 2023 hajj fares.
He said that members of the various boards have been to Saudi Arabia with the NAHCON officials twice, adding that all decisions and agreements were done together in the interest of the intending pilgrims.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer speaking at a news conference shortly after a meeting with the Chief Executives of the 36 States and FCT pilgrims boards, agencies and commissions announced the fares.
According to him “the 2023 Hajj fare incidentally has eight different costs. Pilgrims in Maiduguri and Yola departure centre in the North East will pay the sum of N2,890,000 and this includes their 800 dollars Basic Travelled Allowance (BTA).
For the other Northern States, we have agreed that the cost is N2,919,000, we now move to South which has six different price regime, Edo State is N2,968,000 and the entire South-South and South East are in this same price regime.
Ekiti and Ondo States N2,880,000, Osun state is N2,993,000 and Cross River State incidentally has the cheapest which is N2,943,000, while that of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states is N2,999,000.”
Hassan said that the inflation rate both in Nigeria Saudi Arabia and the scarcity of aviation fuel were largely responsible for the increase in the fare when compare with the 2022 fare which was N2.5million. “And I must also say that there has been an increase in the exchange rate of Naira to a dollar at the official rate.
However, NAHCON and the state pilgrims boards and agencies made several efforts in order to keep the fare at the barest minimum level, while also considering the economic feasibilities and reality of the situation. I am sure all of you will also agree with me that there has been a global trend in countries of the world by hike in the hajj fare.”
He said that NAHCON and all the 36 states and the FCT pilgrims’ boards have reviewed the 2022 hajj operation and adopted strategies for a hitch free 2023 hajj operation.
”We have agreed with all having reviewed the 2022 operation to do everything that will make us to get every pilgrim that registered to Saudi Arabia in good time. We have also discussed the issue of Basic Travelled Allowance (BTA) and Yellow Card and we have devised means to ensure that we are in control of the situation .
We have also agreed that there will be zero tolerance for flight delay or cancelation this year and if there is such there will be sanction on the state or pilgrim or airline that is responsible for it.” Hassan said.