…We’ll certify any aircraft before operation – NCAA
…Why we’re yet to lift pilgrims – Azman Air
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Barely 48 hours to the commencement of airlifting of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for 2022 Hajj pilgrimage, some states are already rejecting the selection of Azman Air aircraft for the operation.
This development is already causing anxiety among pilgrims, as they questioned airline’s selection by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON.
But the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, in a swift reaction, assured pilgrims that all aircraft must be certified before operation.
Vanguard had reported that Azman Airline was one of the three airlines engaged by NAHCON for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. NAHCON also noted that Azman Air was entrusted with conveyance of pilgrims from 16 states and the Armed Forces.
The states are Kano, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, and Yobe states.
Max Air and Flynas had been airlifting pilgrims from their assigned states, but Azman is yet to commence. Their first flight might likely move on Monday night.
A pilgrim, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We have already complained to NAHCON over the imposition of Azman as official Hajj carrier of my state pilgrim.
“Our rejection of Azman is based on operational antecedents of the airline and their capacity to airlift such number of pilgrims assigned to them within the little time before the closure of King AbdulAziz International Airport in Jeddah.
“Look, I am not contending the technical criteria used by NAHCON to screen the airlines, but how can NAHCON allocate the two states with the largest number of pilgrims to a new entrant into the industry with questionable capacity and experience in Hajj airlift?
“Airlift of pilgrims is not like domestic flights because it is strictly time-based.
Why we’re yet to lift pilgrims – Azman Air
Reacting, to the development, the Hajj and Umrah Manager, Azman Air, Alhaji Nura noted that there was no such issue as rejection of Azman by states pilgrims boards.
“Though, there are some states that are used to being airlifted by other airlines in previous Hajj operations and might not be comfortable with us, owing to some reasons. But you know it was NAHCON that assigned states to us.
“We are supposed to begin with Kaduna but we are hampered with the issue of NCAA listing of Kaduna among airports that cannot operate international flights for now due to insecurity.
The state government on the other hand, wants their pilgrims to be airlifted from Kaduna State.
“From all indications, Kaduna State pilgrims may be airlifted through Kano; that is the conclusion for now. We are currently in Lagos getting ready to airlift the pilgrims by tomorrow (today) God willing. It is not true that any state has rejected Azman airline.”
We’ll certify aircraft before operation – NCAA
In a chat with Vanguard, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Samuel Adurogboye, said: “Our area of involvement is to advice NAHCON about airlines they want to use. We check if the aircraft they want to use is certified for that operation.
“If the aircraft they have is not efficient or enough, what the airline does is to hire from another company that is available. Wherever they lease aircraft from, we will still go out and certify the aircraft; if not okay, we will not allow them to use it.
“For the distance they want to go, it is not necessary that they will utilize the aircraft they operate with locally. They will get one that is big enough to meet the deadline because it’s not free, pilgrims pay for the service.
“Nigeria pilgrims should be rest assured that no airline will be allowed to use a plane that is not okay to carry anyone.
“We are also mindful of our safety record. Nigeria is a category one nation, meaning that we are among the countries globally that enforce safety compliance. We earn it and we are also ensuring that record is kept. This is our seventh year without any problem.”