General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia has cleared three Nigerian carriers for this year’s hajj out of the six airlines originally nominated by the Federal Government.
The airlines approved are: Med-View Airlines Ltd., Max Air Ltd. and Saudi Arabian designated carrier, Fly-Nas Air.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria last Wednesday said that Saudi Arabian aviation authorities disqualified the other three Nigerian carriers, Dornier Aviation Nigeria AEP Ltd; Top Brass and Azman Air Services from transporting Nigerian pilgrims for the 2016 Hajj.
Head of Aviation of NAHCON, Alhaji Mohammadu Goni, who made this known at the commission’s Headquarters in Abuja, said that only the approved three airlines were designated to fly the route between the two countries.
He said that NAHCON had made concerted efforts to ensure that Saudi Arabian Government allowed the three disqualified airlines to participate in the exercise, but to no avail.
According to him, the commission forwarded the report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Aviation for diplomatic intervention, but that Saudi Arabia did not grant its request.
“In fact, a delegation was sent to appeal to Saudi Arabian Authority to allow the three carriers fly their route but they insisted that those airlines must acquire designation status because they only applied as charter flights,” he said.
Goni also said that it was a standing rule that all Hajj participating countries must abide by the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority’s condition in order to participate in the Hajj.
He said that it was clearly stipulated in GACA that any country participating in the Hajj must give 50 per cent of its total pilgrims to Saudi airlines to transport them.
He said that GACA and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority were responsible for the technical analysis, clearance and inspection of airlines involved in Hajj operation.
He said that NAHCON had stated it clearly in the advertisement for application and screening of air carriers that it was subject to NCAA and GACA clearance.
“We have a standing procedure for selecting airlines for transportation of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, starting from placement of advert on the commission official website and national dailies.
“After we received applications and other necessary documents from interested carriers, then the commission would set up a 30-member Screening Committee involving different organisations to screen the airlines.
“Members of the Committee will be drawn from NAMA, FAAN, NCIA, EFCC, ICPC, Ministry of Aviation and other relevant agencies.
“Then the panel of the committee would adopt a screening template and agree on pass mark, which this year we agreed on 60 per cent benchmark,” Goni said.