Sudan War: Nigerian Pilgrims To Pay Additional $100 Airfare – NAHCON

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) yesterday backtracked on its promise that pilgrims would not pay extra cost over the $250 increase in airfare.

The local airlines involved in hajj operations had requested that the fare be increased by $250 over the crisis in Sudan, which would require a longer travel time to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Sudanese airspace has been shut since crisis erupted in April.

But speaking in Abuja during a training exercise organised for staff of NAHCON, state pilgrim boards and private tour operators, Zikrullah Hassan, NAHCON Chairman, had assured that the pilgrims would not be asked to bear the additional cost.

“Our local airlines after several negotiations accepted the sum of $250 to the increase in the cost of air ticket for this year’s operation. We’re still looking for all avenues to resolve the attendant consequence of this money. We’re still paying earnestly for a quick and peace resolution to the conflict in Sudan so that the airspace could be open and there will be a stop to the mindless killing of the people of Sudan.”

“At NAHCON, we’re looking for all ways to ensure that we resolve the issue of this additional cost. We’ve decoded that whatever decision we’ll take, it’ll not require the pilgrims to pay additional fund into the hands of the respective pilgrim boards in their state. They’ll not need to pay more money,” he had said.

But in a statement yesterday, Deputy Director, Information, NAHCON, Mousa Ubandawaki, said the commission decided that the pilgrims would pay 40 percent ($100) of the hike in airfare after the federal government subsidised operations for airlines to make the airlift.

“This would further alleviate the additional cost of the airfare on the Nigerian pilgrims. The government had earlier waived 65% of the aviation charges to bring down the cost of Hajj. With this development, the $250 addition negotiated with the airlines will be reduced by $55.

“The liability of the remaining $195 will be borne by the 75,000 pilgrims which is calculated at $117 per pilgrim to offset the $117 without causing additional financial obligations on the Pilgrims, the Commission resolved to reduce the Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) for 2023 hajj pilgrims to the sum of $700 against $800.00 provided in the Hajj package already paid by the pilgrims,” he said.

Ubandawaki said NAHCON had sought understanding of the air carriers for the remaining $17 which would serve as discount to the pilgrims “who are also victims of the Sudan airspace closure.”

He noted that if the Sudanese airspace is cleared for normal flight either before the commencement of the airlift or at any point of the operation, appropriate refunds would be made to the pilgrims.