From DESMOND MGBOH, Kano and ANDY ASEMOTA, Katsina
Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, has resumed airlift of pilgrims to this year’s hajj after the suspension of the exercise, following the deportation of Nigerian female pilgrims by Saudi authorities. Operators of the designated hajj airlines were in a better mood following the resolution of the conflict between the Nigerian Government and the Saudi Arabia.
Investigation by Daily Sun indicated that Kabo Air, one of the couriers for the 2012 hajj operations, had resumed full operations. “Immediately after the announcement of the decision, ending the crisis, Kabo Air was able to mobilize its resources, including its human capacity and by Saturday, it was set to take off,” said a source. Alhaji Aminu Hamza, Corporate Affairs Manager, Kabo Air told Daily Sun in Kano that they had already airlifted 2098 pilgrims since Sunday following the suspension of hostility.
He declared, “As early as 7:17am on Sunday, our airline took off with 529 passengers, mostly from Kogi State,” adding that another batch of 518 pilgrims from Kebbi State were equally lifted to Saudi Arabia later in the day. He assured pilgrims that were to fly with them of the enormous benefits arising from their over 30 years of experience, while confirming that about 8,155 pilgrims in all had been lifted by Kabo Air since the 2012 Hajj exercise began.
Alhaji Dahiru Manga, Media Consultant, Max Air told Daily Sun that they had about 5000 pilgrims since Sunday when the conflict was resolved, saying that they did two flights on Sunday, five flights on Monday and were billed to fly a total of three flights yesterday. In all, he said that they had airlifted a total of about 21000 pilgrims since the 2012 Hajj began, adding that they had airlifted pilgrims from Lagos, Kaduna, Kastina, Kebbi, FCT, Niger, Jigawa, Sokoto among others. He assured the pilgrims of excellent service during and after the hajj exercise.
In a related development, Katsina State yesterday, resumed the airlift of its pilgrims after the break, the state Amirul Hajj, Justice Umar Abdullahi, has confirmed. Speaking shortly after a meeting with members of the delegation and officials of the State Pilgrims Welfare Board in Katsina, the former president of the Court of Appeal explained that a new flight schedule had been presented for normal airlift of the intending pilgrims.
Abdullahi, who said the remaining intending pilgrims would be airlifted in four flights, re-affirmed the importance of using flight control card as means of identifying those on board any flight. The card, according to him, was to ensure that only those on board a particular plane would be flown back in the same aircraft after their pilgrimage. On the returnees from Saudi Arabia, the Amirul Hajj explained that arrangements were underway to airlift them back to perform the Hajji.
Daily Sun however gathered that the state pilgrim welfare board would re-screen the deported pilgrims to ensure that each of the female pilgrims travel with her guardian, otherwise known as Muharram, in the same flight in line with the Saudi Arabia’s requirement. Over 1,376 intending female pilgrims were deported recently by the Saudi authorities for not travelling with their guardians.