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498 Muslim pilgrims successfully take off from Tamale airport to Saudi Arabia on historic first flight




Four hundred and ninety, 498 pilgrims took-off on board a Boeing 7474-400series at the Tamale airport en route to Madina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the 2016 hajj.
They were from the northern, upper west and upper east regions.

At exactly 3:37 pm, the pilgrims took off, and are expected to land in Jiddah airport in about five hours time instead of seven hours if they had taken-off at Kotoka International Airport in the nation’s capital Accra.

The successful take-off has been described as historic and first ever in the second republic and comes on the heels of a successful completion of the first phase of the upgrading of the airport to international standards.

In all, 1500 pilgrims will fly directly from Tamale to Madina to perform the Islam spiritual obligation and are expected back without transiting in Accra.


Transport minister

Minister of Transport, Mr Fifi Kwatey described the flight in Tamale as historic and that it was part of government effort for creating alternative airport aside K.IA

The runway can handle any of the Jumbo aircraft. According to the transport minister, the first phase cost 130 million US dollar. He told journalists Friday morning on a tour of the Hajj village inside the Tamale police park that his ministry will continue work with other agencies to develop aero drops for other regions.

He said government intend making Tamale the hub in terms of movement of Muslim pilgrims to Saudia to perform Hajj, adding that the first flight was just the beginning of more things to come in the aviation industry.

He called on management of airport to cultivate a good maintenance habit to protect the huge investment the government is making in the facility.

The minister made a passionate appeal to traditional rulers to help Ghana Airport Company Limited prevent encroachment on the land so more facilities could be constructed.

Is a plus to government- GACL MD

The Managing Director of Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) Mr Charles Kwame Asare,  said his outfit coordinated all the activities with the Hajj board and any inconvenience experienced by some pilgrims was because this was the first time, and stakeholders took note.

“Whatever way it is, is better than traveling ten hours to Accra, staying there for weeks at high cost, it was total inconvenience. Over here in the north, it is really a plus and government has done very well to first bring the initiative and execute it,” Mr Asare said. “We have an airport which will serve as an alternative to Kotoka international airport in Accra.”

According to him, should there be emergency that the plane cannot land in Accra, Tamale is now an alternative and we don’t need to call any other airport for landing rights because the airport can take any large aircraft.

The airport is close to most of the European market and the northern region is a food basket and I can see Argo business expanding because of this, the GACL MD noted. An airport city will come in phase two of the upgrading of the airport, he added.

The National chief Imam Shiekh Usman Nuhu Sharabutu commended the president for lessening the burden and complaints from will-be pilgrims every year.

He said the hustle pilgrims go through has finally come to an end. He also admonished Ghanaians to guide the peace in the country in this election year.

The northern regional minister, Mr Abdallah Abubakari said one of the ways you can touch the life of a Muslim is to facilitate their movement to perform one of the five pillars of Islam which is Hajj, and he thanked government on the behalf of people in the region.


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