The commencement of the return trips of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20, 2022, the Ghana Hajj Board (GHB) has announced.
The aircraft is expected to touchdown with 433 passengers at the Tamale International Airport, a statement from GHB has announced.
Four flights will airlift the passengers who flew from Tamale, the expected end being July 25, 2022.
In a related development, Alhaji Farouk Hamza, Director of Finance of the GHB while speaking to Kumasi-based Alpha Radio said the Accra flights from Jeddah will commence on July 26 and end on July 28, 2022. Check-in is done three days before departure. Those billed to travel on the first flight to Tamale from Jeddah will start their check-in formalities today ahead of their return on Wednesday, he said.
Passengers’ luggage, he assured, will not be left behind provided the stipulated maximum allowed weight are adhered to. Those who exceed this will have to arrange for shipment in containers. “Each of the two bags given to passengers should not exceed 23 kilos, and 46 kilos is the maximum weight allowed for each passengers,” he explained.
On the issue of refunds, he said, these will be dealt with upon the return of the GHB team, adding “those who paid GH¢26,000 two years ago but could not make it will receive a refund of GH¢39,000. No decision has been taken yet regarding those who would want to leave their fares to the GHB till next year. The GHB will engage with all stakeholders, especially agents and take a decision on that, but for now there is no word in that regard.”
On whether or not all persons who paid were airlifted, he said some could not, the reasons being attributed to varied technical reasons such as late submission of COVID-19 certificates among others. “Some COVID-19 certificates were only submitted only a day before the last flight from Accra. It is only when we return that a clearer picture of the challenges we encountered will be presented to Ghanaians,” he said.
Continuing, he apologised to those who as a result of some factors were unable to make it to the Hajj this year.
The overall picture of Hajj 2022, he said, shows a religious exercise in which thousands missed out globally. The current GHB, he said, has performed creditably under the constraints such as working on the subject for only a month, as he pointed at the support received from government but for which the Hajj could not have come on this year.
On connotation of criminality levelled against the GHB for allegedly allowing some persons to tamper with their passports so they could beat the age limitations, he dismissed this as total nonsense because as he put it “the GHB does not work on passports and cannot therefore be held responsible for such allegations. We are law abiding citizens and subject to the laws of this country.”
No Hajj Board has the record of airlifting all intending pilgrims in the history of Hajj operations.
The current Hajj Board inherited 452 persons who paid but could not go for the Hajj, but the government paid for all of them to make the Hajj.
By A.R. Gomda