The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has categorically refuted the rumors circulating about a $100 increase in hajj fare.
In a statement issued by Mousa Ubandawaki, the Deputy Director of Information & Publications at NAHCON, the commission emphasized its commitment to ensuring a seamless airlift of pilgrims and providing them with excellent services throughout the Hajj process.
Ubandawaki clarified that the ongoing crisis in Sudan, which led to the closure of its airspace due to security concerns, has affected all Hajj airlift flights.
As a result, alternative routes with longer flight durations, ranging from 1 hour 40 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the departure points in Nigeria, had to be taken.
He explained, “These alternate routes require the carriers to fly through the airspace of Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, incurring additional costs for aviation fuel and over-flight charges.”
The commission thoroughly assessed various options to fund the additional $250 dollars for the airlines, engaging in multiple processes and meetings with the airlines, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards, in order to find a prompt solution to the challenges.
In an effort to mitigate the impact of the additional airfare on pilgrims, NAHCON decided to appeal to the Federal Government to waive the remaining 35% of aviation charges for the airlines. This would result in a reduction of $55 from the negotiated $250 addition.
Ubandawaki stated, “The remaining liability of $195 will be shared among the 75,000 pilgrims, amounting to approximately $117 per pilgrim.
To offset this amount without imposing further financial burden on the pilgrims, NAHCON has decided to reduce the Basic Travelling Allowance (BTA) for 2023 Hajj Pilgrims to $700, compared to the originally paid amount of $800 included in the Hajj package.”
Regarding the remaining $17, NAHCON has also requested the understanding of the air carriers to offer that amount as an additional discount to the pilgrims, who are also affected by the closure of Sudan’s airspace.
Ubandawaki further clarified, “If the Sudanese airspace is cleared for normal flights either before the commencement of the airlift or at any point during the operation, appropriate refunds will be issued to the pilgrims.”
He emphasized that the trending news reports are misrepresenting the facts, stating that NAHCON will never engage in any practices that exploit the pilgrims.
The commission remains committed to supporting the media and pilgrims by providing accurate information and maximum cooperation.