The inaugural flight of pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia will depart Nigeria September 18 while the last flight will leave the country on October 17 as the Jeddah airport would be closed by October 2, Chairman, National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Muhammad Bello, has said.
He disclosed the flight schedule yesterday in his Abuja office at a meeting with the Rep. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje-led House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Abuja.
He said since Arafat day was likely to hold on October 25, the first return flight would leave Saudi Arabia for Nigeria on November 1 while the last would be November 30.
Bello told the committee that arrangements for 2012 Hajj exercise was better than 2011 exercise as Saudi authorities would allowed 25 per cent of Nigeria pilgrims to land straight in the Holy City of Madina.
He said a total of 95,000 Nigerians are to perform the 2012 hajj.
He said the number was 4,000 lower than the allocation to Nigeria in 2011, adding that 10,000 of the figure were allotted to private hajj operators while the commission and the state pilgrim boards would share the remaining 85,000.
Elendu-Ukeje (PDP-Abia) said that the briefing of the commission was convincing enough that it was ready, but hoped that it would be translated to a hitch free hajj exercise.