By Kayode Sanni-Arewa
The Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a civil society organization, has called on members of the hajj aviation screening committee to abide strictly by the terms of their mandate and apply their professional competence in selecting 2023 Hajj air carriers.
A statement issued on Monday, signed by Ibrahim Mohammed, the National Coordinator of IHR, said the work of the committee will have a great impact on the success or otherwise of 2023 hajj exercise.
IHR commended the terms of reference handed over to the screening committee by NAHCON and the decision to include competent professionals from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to handle the screening exercise, especially by allowing the committee to allocate passengers to the Carriers based on their assessed capabilities
IHR charges the 36-member screening committee to strictly adhere to the terms of reference handed over to them by commission without exception.
Part of the guidelines given to the committee is to determine the suitability and capability of the applicants in line with the extant Nigerian Civil Aviation regulations and ICAO standards, allocate passengers to the Carriers based on their assessed capabilities, Establish criteria, score or grade for suitability and for the recommendation of an applicant, Recommend appropriate pilgrim airfare and excess luggage rate for the specified departure zones and make any other recommendation, necessary for the efficient conduct of 2023 Hajj airlift.
IHR called on the committee to ensure that it abides by its commitment that only Airlines who meet the technical requirements are considered for ferrying Nigerian pilgrims and that only airlines who has the specified aircraft will be selected.
“Airlift of pilgrims from Nigeria to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia constitutes the major operations during hajj exercise.
“No matter the level of preparations, enlightenments or documentation carried out by states' Muslim pilgrims board or NAHCON, intending pilgrims have to be airlifted to holy land in Saudi Arabia – where all hajj rites will be performed,” IHR said.
IHR also advised the airlines to resist the temptation of biting more than they can chew by presenting verifiable facts about their capability and capacity.
Intending pilgrims who have paid for hajj fare, fulfill all requirements has been called to hajj by Almighty Allah. Failure to airlift any of those pilgrims due to an act of commission or omission on the part of airliners simply means that the airliners has rejected the call of Almighty Allah for the intending pilgrims to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam,” it said.
IHR also advised NAHCON to update its airlift contractual agreement with Hajj air carrier's to includes a clause that will allow NAHCON to unconditionally transfer allotted passenger of an airline that missed 2 flight schedules to any other available airlines without “Consequential Loss” – which means there will be no any damage, loss or injury of whatsoever or any loss or anticipated loss of profit, any loss or anticipated loss of revenue, any business interruption, any loss of use of any equipment, loss of any contract or other business opportunity and any other indirect loss of a similar nature.
“NAHCON as the apex hajj regulatory body has a responsibility of ensuring that intending pilgrims get a commensurate value of service for their money,” IHR added.