Hajj 2023 Airlift: CSO Tasks Aviation Screening Committee On Professionalism

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By; JABIRU A. HASSAN, Kano

Following the constitution of a screening committee to select airlines that would airlift Hajj 2023 intending pilgrims by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Independent Hajj Reporters, (IHR), a civil society organization, has called on members of the committee to abide strictly by the terms of their mandate and apply their professional competence in selecting the carriers.   

IHR lauded the terms of reference handed over to the screening committee by NAHCON and the decision to include competent professionals from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to handle the screening exercise,  especially by allowing the committee to allocate passengers to the carriers based on their assessed capabilities.  

IHR charged the 36-member screening committee to strictly adhere to the terms of reference handed over to them by the commission, without exception.   

Part of the guidelines given to the committee is to determine the suitability and capability of the applicants in line with the extant Nigerian Civil Aviation regulations and ICAO standards, allocate passengers to the Carriers based on their assessed capabilities, Establish criteria, score or grade for suitability and for the recommendation of an applicant, Recommend appropriate pilgrim airfare and excess luggage rate for the specified departure zones and make any other recommendation, necessary for the efficient conduct of 2023 Hajj airlift.  

 IHR said the committee should ensure that it abides by its commitment that only Airlines who meet the technical requirements are considered for ferrying Nigerian pilgrims and that only airlines who has the specified aircraft will be selected.

A statement on Monday, signed by the national coordinator of IHR, Ibrahim Mohammed says “the work of the committee will have a great impact on the success or otherwise of 2023 hajj exercise. Airlift of pilgrims from Nigeria to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia constitutes the major operations during hajj exercise. 

No matter the level of preparations, enlightenment or documentation carried out by states’ Muslim pilgrims boards or NAHCON, intending pilgrims have to be airlifted to the holy land in Saudi Arabia, where all Hajj rites will be performed”.   

However, IHR further advised the airlines to resist the temptation of biting more than they can chew by presenting verifiable facts about their capability and capacity. 

“Intending pilgrims who have paid  Hajj fares snd fulfill all requirements have been called to Hajj by Almighty Allah. Failure to airlift any of those pilgrims due to an act of commission or omission on the part of airliners simply means that the airliners has rejected the call of Almighty Allah for the intending pilgrims to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam,” the group pointed out.  

IHR also advised NAHCON to update its airlift contractual agreement with Hajj air carriers to include a clause that will allow NAHCON to unconditionally transfer allotted passenger of an airline that misses two flight schedules to any other available airlines without “Consequential Loss”  – which means there will be no any damage, loss or injury of whatsoever or any loss or anticipated loss of profit, any loss or anticipated loss of revenue, any business interruption, any loss of use of any equipment, loss of any contract or other business opportunity and any other indirect loss of a similar nature.  

“NAHCON as the apex Hajj regulatory body has a responsibility of ensuring that intending pilgrims get a commensurate value of service for their money. Amending the airlift agreement and applying such measures will discourage hajj carriers from using a single aircraft to ferry pilgrims from more than 3 different countries during Hajj airlift,” the statement added.   

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