The General Authority for Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia has extended landing permits of Nigerian Hajj carriers from July 4 to July 6.
The Assistant Director, Public Affairs Division, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Mrs Fatima Usara, made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
She said the extension was necessitated by excessive flight cancellations and flight delays.
Usara 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 for pilgrims, insufficient funds for Visas and unavailable PCR test results.
She revealed that a total of 13 flights were cancelled with another 57 delayed take-offs, seven of which are 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.
“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 another airline.
“NAHCON sought the extension to enable it to transport its remaining pilgrims into the Kingdom for 2022 Hajj. Out of the 43,008 pilgrims expected to arrive Saudi Arabia from Nigeria, 27,359, inclusive of 527 staff as well as committees and board members, under the government quota have been conveyed.
“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,” Usara said.
She, therefore, appealed to intending pilgrims to remain calm and prepared for onward conveyance for the 2022 Hajj.
According to her, the commission regrets any tension and stress intending pilgrims might have experienced during this outbound journey to the holy land.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that on June 26, NAHCON said its request for more slots to enable more Nigerians to participate in this year’s Hajj exercise was turned down by the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Hajj body had requested for additional 5,000 slots to be distributed among state pilgrims’ welfare boards, subscribers through the Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS) as well as private tour operators.