No fewer than 1,434 Kwara intending Muslim pilgrims have so far been airlifted by Medview Airline and Max Air from Ilorin International Airport to Saudi Arabia.
A total number of 2,942 intending pilgrims are expected to travel through Ilorin International Airport to perform the 2017 Hajj exercise at Saudi Arabia. The figure is made up of pilgrims from three states; Ekiti 172, Kwara 2,468 and Ondo 302 including of the Ilorin zonal district officers of National Hajj Commission (NAHCON).
The first batch of 463 pilgrims were airlifted on Thursday by Medview airline at exactly 12:21pm while the second batch departed the Airport at exactly 1:30 am on Friday with 215 passengers on Board with same airline.
The third batch comprising of 539 pilgrims left at 4:21am on Saturday aboard Max Airline with four officials on board.
A total of 1, 508 intending pilgrims from Ilorin zone comprises of Ekiti, Kwara and Ondo states are yet to be airlifted as at the time of filing this report.
Speaking to Pilot Aviation on the airlift operations on Saturday, the Executive Secretary of Kwara State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Tunde Jimoh said that the exercise has been smooth with the pilgrims complying with directives.
He said, ” The screening exercise and airlifting has so far been successful. Our intending pilgrims have been cooperating with the security agencies and they have obeyed our instruction as you see no contraband has been found on them.
The Executive Secretary called on the pilgrims to adhere to the rules and regulations at the Holy land and be good ambassadors of Kwara and Nigeria at large during the pilgrimage.
He also urged them to pray for the state and President Buhari while performing the hajj for peace and development of the country as well as recovery of the president.
Also speaking, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole stated that necessary arrangements have been made and the departure of the pilgrims in accordance with the various schedules indicates the sincerity of the airline.
He urged the pilgrims to be committed, steadfast and prayerful during the hajj exercise, advising them to shun any act that could tarnish their image in the Holy land.
The CEO said, ” We commend Kwara State government for the honour to be part of the exercise and we assure of quality servic, which we are known for.
The Operations Officer of Max Air, Lawan Muneer said that operations from Ilorin has been hitch free .
He said ” Our airline have been airlifting pilgrims across the country and we have been are rending effective service.
The Kwara State Amir Hajj, Professor Suleiman Jamiu noted that the exercise is one of the five pillars that every dedicated Muslim needs to undergo in life.
He appreciated the stae Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed for his support since the commencement of the airlift of pilgrims.
A cross section of the pilgrims who spoke to our reporter lauded effort of the airliners in ensuring that there is no delay like the previous years.