Managing Director of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole has said that Nigerian airlines have the capacity to airlift over 70, 000 pilgrims for Hajj if given the opportunity. This, he said is because those in that service have become efficient and could deploy aircraft at short notice for the operations.
Bankole made this known in an interview recently during the inaugural airlift of pilgrims from the Kaduna International Airport, Kaduna.
He explained that the number of pilgrims approved for Nigeria by the Saudi Arabia authorities was 95,000 but due to recession, the pilgrims that could afford this yearâ€™s Hajj was about 70, 000 pilgrims.
â€œToday we have strong partners. Max Air, for example, has about three airplanes which carry almost 500 passengers each. Med- View has three which carries about 1000 per day. If you put all these together and multiply by the number of days we have, the number of pilgrims are less for the Nigerian carriers to carry. I repeat; it is less for us to carry. But we are always open to competition which makes us to believe in our partner, our friend from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,â€ Bankole said.
At the flag off of the Hajj operations from Kaduna, Medviewairlifted a total of 1, 140 pilgrims from the Kaduna International Airport.
The airline started with the first batch of 460 pilgrims on board its Boeing 747-400 aircraft flight 3110 which took off on Tuesday and later the same day airlifted a batch of 220 on its Boeing 767-200ER flight 3118.
The Managing Director who saw the pilgrims off along with the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the Governor of Kaduna state, Nasri El-Rufai, explained that the airline has done everything to ensure that the pilgrimsâ€™ flights would be hitch free and enjoyable from takeoff to landing at Saudi Arabia.
Sirika who commended Bankole for his invaluable efforts of operating a successful airline, also met with the pilgrims who prayed for him and the Managing Director of Medview Airline for making the Hajj airlift possible,
The governor wished them well and enjoined them to be good and law-abiding representatives of the state.
Also, Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Representatives, Aminu Abdullahi Shagali spoke to the pilgrims during the flag-off of the airlift and explained that the state government has put everything in place to ensure that the hajj was hitch free.
He enjoined the pilgrims to comport themselves in dignity in the Holy land while commending their level of understanding during the last time out.
â€œHajj is for those who are able to physically and financially. The problem of hajj became a thing of the past in Kaduna state as government has put in measures to ensure it is hitch free. Kaduna state provides the best so far; your conduct during last yearâ€™s hajj was highly commendable and so let me enjoin you to continue in that trend and be good ambassadors of Kaduna state and Nigeria as a whole,â€ he said.