WorldStage Newsonline-- Med-View carrier has airlifted 1,000 pilgrims from Nigeria to the holy lands in Medina and Mecca for this year’s lesser Hajj.
The carrier which is designated to airlift at least 2, 000 pilgrims from Lagos, Ilorin, Maiduguri and Abuja Zones to Mecca, Saudi Arabia for this year’s exercise planned to conclude the exercise by the end of this month.
Addressing journalists Thursday at the departure hall of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, the General Manager, Med-View, Mr. David Babatunde said that the lesser Hajj to Mecca was a prelude to the main religious exercise which comes up in Saudi Arabia later in the year.
He explained that the first phase of the exercise would end on August 11, 2012 while the return leg would commence on the August 19, 2012.
In a bid to effectively airlift the pilgrims, he said that the carrier had deployed a Boeing 767-300 to the route and assured that the exercise would be concluded as planned without any major challenges.
On intending pilgrims who use the religious exercise as a cover to defect to other countries, Babtunde said that the management had devised means to prevent this from happening and assured that the entire pilgrims airlifted to the holy land would return as scheduled.
He said, “For our pilgrims, we have really sensitised, advised and appealed to them the implication of running away when they get there. However, Medview Air carrier is very selective when it comes to picking pilgrims. We don’t just get involve in airlift without knowing who they are. At times, when we are in doubt, we ask them to provide us with guarantee just to ensure that they don’t disappear from Saudi Arabia.
“As you are aware, lesser Hajj as the name suggests is preparation towards the main Hajj exercise. So, this period, a lot of Muslims will want to visit Mecca most especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan fasting and that is why we are involved in the airlift. We also have package for those who want hotel accommodation, surface transportation and even visas. That makes a complete package.”
The airlifting of pilgrims to Mecca for lesser Hajj started in Lagos zone last week.
Med-View carrier has over the years been the sole operator that airlifts pilgrims from the zone.
Last year, it airlifted at least 8, 213 to Mecca for Hajj exercise from Lagos, Edo, Oyo, Ogun and Armed Forces.