Airlfift of Pilgrims from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia back to Nigeria is scheduled to begin today.
Barring last minutes change of plan, one of the airlines, Max Air limited, will commence the airlift later today.
Max Air limited, one of the airlines, said it was ready to commence the return journey.
Managing Director of the airline Shyam Manwani, said the company had already transported the pilgrims’ holy water (Zamzam) to Nigeria during the first phase.
It will be distributed to pilgrims on return to the airports in Nigeria.
Three airlines, Max Air. Flynass and Medview are involved in the exercise this year.
Meanwhile, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has warned irline operators not to transport criminal elements in Hajj flights from Saudi Arabia back to Nigeria.
NAHCON Chairman Abdullahi Muhktar sounded the warning in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at a meeting with airline operators for the 2018 exercise.
“The airline operators should seriously warn their ground handlers not to allow any non-pilgrim to board hajj flights or take the advantage to allow criminal elements to exit the kingdom.
“This will not be condoned because we don’t know the type of crimes they may have committed before leaving the country.
“Hajj flights must not be used under any circumstances and any suspicious character should be reported so that we can alert the authorities,” he said.
He said after successfully completing the first phase of pilgrims’ transportation from Nigeria, the second stanza of returning them required meticulous planning and full cooperation of all staff.
“We should all redouble our efforts now because this phase requires compliance with the international standards since we will be operating together with other airliners globally from the same point of departure.”
The NAHCON boss further advised the operators to seriously caution their ground staff against mishandling pilgrims’ baggage or exposing them to bad weather.
Nigeria’s Consul-General in Jeddah, Muhammadu Inusa, also advised NAHCON officials in charge of airlift to adhere to pilgrims’ return journey in order of arrival.
“It will be unfair to return first those who came last to Saudi. It should be first come, first return in sequence, to build confidence in the system.”
He commended NAHCON for not leaving any pilgrim behind in the first phase from Nigeria.