FEDERAL government’s decision to concede the airlift of over 50 per cent of pilgrims to a non-Nigerian carrier Fly Nas of Saudi Arabia has come under severe scrutiny as Secretary General of the Aviation Round Table (ART) Group Capt. John Ojikutu has described it as exploitation.
Ojikutu who faulted the what he described as a unilateral decision by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) which is akin to the “exploitation of the commercial agreements in the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASAs).
The ART scribe spoke in reaction to the ongoing return airlift of the 2019 pilgrims which is being undertaken by Fly Nas, a Saudi Arabian carrier and Max Air querying the numbers for Nigerian carriers especially as the numbers dropped from 100, 000 in 2018 to about 65,000 this year.
He said, “The unilateral exploitation in NAHCON by those in charge is not different from the exploitation of the commercial agreements in the BASAs by the officials in the ministry of aviation.
“How many are the numbers of the pilgrims that were shared to Saudi’s airlines? What numbers were shared individually for Nigerian airlines including Medview airlines?
With over 2m attending pilgrimage yearly in Saudi and with the amount each pilgrim spend in that country how can NAHCON convince anyone with brain still in his head that Saudi government insists to airlift 50% of the pilgrims coming from every country, that is one million passengers’ tickets sales in addition to the money they would spend as tourists on accommodation, feeding and other tourists items?
“With about 65,000 that went to hajj this year as against about 100,000 last year, there would be only 30,000 passengers for Nigerian airlines and probably less than 10,000 for airline like Medview that got about 15,000 last year; what profit would be there for the Nigerian airlines?
“Is the ratio of sharing not crazy? Max that rushed just few months ago began domestic operations to meet ‘Saudi’s conditions to participate in the hajj operation got 35% and Medview that had long been in domestic and hajj operations got 14%; isn’t that crazy? That was why I said the whole exercise has more to do with typical unilateral exploitations by some Nigerian officials in NAHCON than the Saudi’s officials.”