Private tour operators under AHUON express anger as Arik Air fails to airlift pilgrims to Saudi Arabia

Thousands of intending pilgrims bound for Saudi Arabia are currently stranded at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, causing frustration and concern among the affected individuals. The stranded pilgrims belong to private tour operators operating under the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON).

Many of these tour operators had made arrangements with Arik Air, one of the airlines approved by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), for the transportation of pilgrims to the Holy Land. However, the airlift has been significantly delayed, prompting the pilgrims to take action.

Expressing their dissatisfaction, the stranded pilgrims gathered at the Arik Air office located within the domestic airport, staging a protest against the prolonged delay in their airlift. Arik Air was assigned the responsibility of transporting pilgrims from the private tour operators, including those from Lagos, Kano, and Abuja zones.

With the closure of the Saudi airspace looming, there are growing concerns that many of the affected pilgrims may miss their opportunity to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage.

Presently, thousands of pilgrims remain stranded at the airport, where they have been forced to spend the past four days, anxiously awaiting their scheduled airlift. The situation has led to overcrowding, with the departure hall becoming congested and the facilities overstretched.

One of the stranded pilgrims, who spoke with our correspondent, revealed that some individuals scheduled for airlift on June 14 are still stuck at the airport. As they continue to wait, they have resorted to sleeping in mosques and other open areas around the international airport.

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The mounting frustration among the affected pilgrims has raised concerns about their well-being and the need for urgent intervention. A tour operator, speaking on condition of anonymity, highlighted the escalating situation and called on NAHCON to step in, emphasizing the growing restlessness among the stranded pilgrims.

The delay in the airlift of these intending pilgrims has caused significant inconvenience and uncertainty. Efforts are being made to address the issue promptly to ensure that the affected individuals can embark on their Hajj journey without further delays.

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