The Association for Hajj and Umrah operators, Kano Zone said it has lost about N2 billion following the recent suspension of flights from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.
It would be recalled that the Saudi Kingdom had last week suspended flights from Nigeria in the wake of the some cases of omicron recorded in the country, which affected intending Umrah (lesser Hajj) pilgrims.
In a communique issued after an emergency meeting of the association, held on December 10, 2021 and made available to newsmen in Kano on Wednesday, the tour operators said no fewer than 1,600 visas with equivalent tickets had so been issued but could not be used by the intending Umrah pilgrims due to the flight suspension.
“The meeting took a preliminary stock of the estimated loss which runs to over a billion Naira as there are more than 1,600 unused visas and tickets affected by the sudden suspension of direct flights to Saudi Arabia,” the communique said.
The action of Saudi Authorities to stop flight from Nigeria came to us as a rude shock because there was no established case of any Nigerian that was found or tested positive in the Kingdom of the suspected Omicron variant of COVID-19 virus.
The meeting also expressed disappointment on the position taken by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) about the fate of pilgrims affected by the suspension where NAHCON said it had nothing to do with Umrah.
The also called on the Federal Government through its relevant agencies to dialogue with Saudi Authorities to lift the flight suspension as Nigerian pilgrims had complied with the COVID-19 protocols and at the same time look into the fate of AHUON members that are directly affected by this avoidable incident.
The meeting also advised intending pilgrims whose journeys were disrupted by the flight suspension to be patient with travel agents because it is not their fault adding that the association is working with relevant stakeholders in finding solution to the problem.