IN a swift reaction to Nigerian Flight Deck’s story earlier’ 45% market allocation to Saudi airline: How NAHCON is fleecing Nigerian hajj operators’ the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) has stated that there was no preferential treatment to Flynas airline as a Royal Decree was given for Saudi carriers the right to airlift 50% hajj traffic.
A source within NAHCON who chose to remain anonymous disclosed this to our reporter stating that Nigeria was not alone as the decree encompassed any country involved in the hajj pilgrimage and that what has transpired goes beyond NAHCON and predates the current leadership.
He further explained that in February 2015, a bilateral meeting involving Nigeria’s Ministry of Aviation, NCAA, NAHCON, Airlines, Saudi General Authority on Civil Aviation (GACA) and Saudi Ministry of Hajj was held in Jeddah where an agreement was reached.
According to him, a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) which provided for a gradual compliance of Nigeria with the Saudi decree where Nigeria would yield 25% of its pilgrims under Government quota in 2015, 35% in 2016, 45% in 2017 and ultimately 50% from 2018 was signed stating that Nigeria is the only country that has dragged and later agreed on such gradual compliance.
He said in a mail message to our reporter,” Saudi Arabia, being the only country where Hajj is performed, has a royal decree giving Saudi Designated Carriers (not Flynas alone) the right to airlift 50% of Hajj Traffic under Government quota from any country coming for Hajj. Before 2010, the Saudi Government collected Royalties in lieu of this right. However, it began to demand for an implementation of this right in 2010 after Nigeria, suspended the payment of royalty to Saudi Arabia as a result of its own choice not to participate in the airlift of Nigerian pilgrims.”
“When the Second Board of NAHCON came in 2011, Saudi Arabia re-iterated its demand and Nigeria objected. This led to a series of correspondences, meetings that almost resulted to a diplomatic row between the two countries threatened the performance of Hajj. “
“To avoid this, Nigeria sent a delegation in August 2014 under the leadership of the then Minister of State II Foreign Affairs, Dr Nuruddeen Muhammad. The delegation agreed to give the Saudi Carriers, 9,500 pilgrims to ensure Hajj 2014 was not affected pending a conclusive resolution of the face-off which was on-going for three years.”
“In February 2015, a bilateral meeting involving Nigeria’s Ministry of Aviation, NCAA, NAHCON, Airlines, Saudi General Authority on Civil Aviation (GACA) and Saudi Ministry of Hajj was held in Jeddah. A Bilateral Air Service Agreement (GACA) was signed by the Vice Chairman of GACA for Saudi Arabia and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation for Nigeria.”
“The BASA among other things, provided for a gradual compliance of Nigeria with the Saudi decree. Nigeria would yield 25% of its pilgrims under Government quota in 2015, 35% in 2016, 45% in 2017 and ultimately 50% from 2018. Nigeria is the only country I know of, that has dragged and later agreed on such gradual compliance. All other countries coming for Hajj are in compliance with policy including those that have strong National carriers.”
“ It should therefore be noted that the arrangement is beyond NAHCON and pre-dates the current leadership of the Commission.”