The Federal Ministry of Aviation has queried the decision of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) over the non -participation of some licenced local carriers from the ongoing hajj exercise to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Sources within the ministry disclosed that in a memo from its Legal Adviser, Mr. S.S. Liman on behalf of the Permanent Secretary to the Chairman, NAHCON, the Aviation Ministry insisted that the Commission lacked the power to unilaterally exclude a carrier for the hajj exercise without liaising with appropriate government authorities. The ministry specifically queried the decision of NAHCON to exclude Skypower Express Airways from charter operating the 2019 hajj and umrah activities.
The ministry insisted that Skypower Express as a Nigerian carrier had met all the necessary provisions, rules and regulations of the country and deserved to be allowed to benefit from charters, ad hoc flights, just like Flynas, a charter operator from Saudi Arabia and any other interested charter operator around the world.
It insisted that all issues of civil aviation regulations and permits in Nigeria was superintendent by the Ministry of Aviation as the aeronautical authority of Nigeria, noting that the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) agreed by the ministry between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was misrepresented by NAHCON.
Liman in the memo insisted that charter services were not discriminated by the BASA operated between the two countries, rather it subjected the same to the approval of the contracting parties’ aeronautical authorities.
The memo added: “The decision whether or not Skypower Express or nay airline operators/companies of Nigeria should or can operate charter flight to Saudi Arabia is not for the Commission to take as it is clearly beyond its mandate.
“Section 4 (i) (b) of the Commission Act is referred to. That decision can only be made by the aeronautical authority of Nigeria (the Federal Ministry of Transportation).”