Thousands Of Saudi Arabia-Bound Pilgrims Stranded In Lagos, Delayed For Days

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Thousands of intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia are currently stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), in Lagos State.

The affected pilgrims were those of the private tour operators under the umbrella of Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON).

Some of the tour operators had booked Arik Air, one of the airlines approved by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), for the airlift of pilgrims to the Holy Land, Daily Trust reports.

In anger, the pilgrims have stormed the Arik Air office at the domestic airport, protesting against the delayed airlift.

Arik was allocated pilgrims from the private tour operators. They are to airlift pilgrims from Lagos, Kano and Abuja zones.

There are fears most of the affected pilgrims may miss the Hajj as the closure of the Saudi airspace inches near.

As of the time of filing this report, thousands of the pilgrims are still stranded at the airport where they have been sleeping for the past four days, awaiting their airlift.

One of the pilgrims who spoke with Daily Trust said some of them who were to be airlifted on June 14 are still at the airport.

They have been sleeping in the Mosques and other open places around the international airport even as the facilities are said to be overstretched, with the departure hall crowded.

One of the tour operators who spoke with our correspondent in confidence said the situation is getting out of hand and called on NAHCON to intervene as most of the pilgrims are becoming restless.