NAHCON Clarifies Additional $100 Charges for Hajj Pilgrims
By Alabidun Shuaib AbdulRahman
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has, through its Deputy Director of Information & Publications, Mousa Ubandawaki, shed light on the trending news regarding an additional payment of $100 for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
Ubandawaki clarified that the payment was necessary due to the ongoing Sudan crisis, which has led to the closure of Sudan’s airspace for security reasons.
“The closure of Sudan’s airspace has forced us to reroute all Hajj airlift flights through alternative paths,” Ubandawaki explained.
“These alternate routes, ranging from 1 hour 40 minutes to 3 hours longer depending on departure points in Nigeria, require the carriers to fly through the airspace of Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. This results in additional costs for aviation fuel and overflight charges.”
The NAHCON thoroughly reviewed various options to fund the additional expenses of $250 for the airlines.
This process involved extensive discussions and meetings with the airlines, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards, aiming to find a swift resolution to the issue.
Ubandawaki highlighted the Commission’s resolution as follows:
“I. The Commission appealed to the Federal Government to kindly waive the remaining 35% of aviation charges, amounting to $55, in favour of the airlines. This waiver would alleviate the burden of additional airfare costs for Nigerian pilgrims. The government had already waived 65% of the aviation charges initially to reduce the overall cost of Hajj. Consequently, the negotiated addition of $250 with the airlines will be reduced by $55.”
“II. The remaining liability of $195 will be borne by the 75,000 pilgrims, amounting to approximately $117 per pilgrim.”
“III. To offset the $117 without imposing additional financial obligations on the pilgrims, the Commission has decided to reduce the Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) for 2023 Hajj Pilgrims from $800 to $700, which has already been paid as part of the Hajj package.”
“IV. As for the remaining $17, NAHCON has requested the air carriers to offer that amount as an additional discount to Nigerian Pilgrims, who are also affected by the closure of the Sudanese airspace.”
Ubandawaki emphasised that in the event of Sudan’s airspace being cleared for normal flights before or during the airlift operations, appropriate refunds would be made to the pilgrims.
The statement further clarified that the circulating news regarding the additional charges was a misrepresentation of facts.
Ubandawaki assured the public that the Commission would never engage in any acts that exploit the pilgrims and reaffirmed their commitment to providing maximum support and cooperation to both the media and the pilgrims by offering accurate information.
NAHCON reiterated its dedication to ensuring a smooth airlift for Nigerian pilgrims and delivering the best possible services during the Hajj pilgrimage.
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