By Haroon Balogun
No fewer than 3,029 pilgrims who performed the just concluded hajj exercise have returned to the country. The pilgrims were airlifted in a total of 11 flights carried out by the three contracted airlines – Flynas, (a Saudi based air-carrier), Max Air and Med-view airline.
Cross-section of Edo State 2018 intending Hajj Pilgrims, at Hajj Camp, in Benin City, on Thursday, August 9, 2018.
The latest was a Med-view MEV3311 which departed Jeddah airport at 04:53hrs and arrived Lagos about 9:05am Thursday with 310 pilgrims as well as Flynas XY7760 which departed Jeddah airport yesterday with 228 FCT pilgrims at about and expected to land at Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport at 11:35am
It was gathered that the airlifting which began on August 27, will have a short break and scheduled to resume airlifting Sunday.
Speaking with newsmen, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Airport Coordinator at King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Alhaji Muhammad Bakari Girei expressed satisfaction with the airlifting so far, praising the State officials, their pilgrims and the three air carriers for their conduct.
He said there was a marked difference this year with regards to pilgrims hand luggage compared to previous years, adding that, the pilgrims have heeded the instruction of a one single eight kilograms handbag, unlike in previous years when the pilgrims arrived the Airport with multiple travelling bags.
It could be recalled that the Chairman of the Commission, Barrister Abdullah Mukhtar Muhammad, had persistently advised pilgrims on the need to adhere to the approved 32kilograms check-in bag and 8-kilograms handbag, to avoid delay during airport check-in and airlifting process.
Alhaji Bakari Girei hoped that the cooperation, understanding and cordial working relationship exhibited, so far, by the main stakeholders in the airlift operation would be maintained, for a fast and smoother evacuation of the Nigerian pilgrims from the holy land back home.
He reiterated hope that in the next few days airlift of pilgrims will be drawing to conclusion.