NAHCON, airline rift threatens return flights of Nigerian hajj pilgrims

A controversy bordering on alleged breach of contractual agreement between the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Med-View Airline Plc, one of the three airlines approved by the Federal Government for the airlift of pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia this year, is threatening the smooth conclusion of Nigeria’s hajj operations for 2019, Saturday Tribune has learnt.

The fate of many Nigerian pilgrims waiting to be airlifted back home is said to be hanging in the balance unless the Federal Government urgently intervenes in the dispute about the contentious agreement between the two parties.

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Med-View Airline is accusing NAHCON of reneging on the agreement it had with it ahead of the start of the hajj operations and the airline has, consequently, petitioned the presidency to seek redress on the matter.

An official of NAHCON confirmed to Saturday Tribune during the week that the commission was aware of the separate petitions Med-View had already forwarded to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

In one of the documents, a copy of which was sighted by Saturday Tribune, Med-View accused NAHCON of frustrating it and attempting to compel it to partner with “a Saudi Arabian carrier,” Flynas, despite its partnership with another “Nigerian airline,” Max Air, which was also appointed to participate in the airlift exercise.

The airline also accused the hajj commission of working against the interest of domestic airlines designated for the purpose of the pilgrims’ airlift to give room for “the foreign carrier.”

Efforts to get the reaction of NAHCON on Friday were futile as calls made to the mobile lines of the commission’s chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar and the spokesperson, Hajiya Fatima Sanda, were not answered.

Text messages sent to the two lines were also not replied as of press time.

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