Airlines participating in the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage are expressing frustration due to delays in payments by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). This issue is causing concerns about the timely return of pilgrims after the Hajj.

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Several airlines, including Max Air, Air Peace, and FlyNas, were contracted by NAHCON to transport pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. According to their agreements, the airlines were to receive 50% of the airfare before the first leg of the journey to facilitate preparations. However, this payment was only made after the initial flights were completed.

As per the contract, another 35% of the fare was due at the start of the airlift. Despite this, one airline representative, who requested anonymity, revealed that they had not received these funds and were informed that the payment was still being processed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The delays have strained the airlines financially. They need to cover overhead charges for overflight permissions, payments to the General Authority of Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia, service providers like ground handling firms, fuel suppliers, and maintenance costs. The operators have continued their services out of national duty but warn that without prompt payment, they might have to cease operations, disrupting the return flights for pilgrims.

NAHCON officials, also speaking anonymously, acknowledged the issue and stated that efforts were underway to resolve the payment delays through the CBN. They assured that the airlines would be paid soon, but the ongoing uncertainty continues to put significant pressure on the airlines.