Nairobi's JKIA has been recognized as then the Best Improved Airport in Africa for excellence in customer service. PHOTO | DIANA NGILANairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
By CECIL ODONGO

Over 400 Muslim pilgrims expecting to travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage are stranded at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) due to lack of flights to Riyadh.

The pilgrims’ have been told they can not travel to Saudi Arabia because international airlines in the route have been fully booked.

Even worse for the pilgrims is that they stand the risk missing out on the pilgrimage altogether after the Saudi government placed an August 16 deadline beyond which they will not allow in foreign flights.

This is among a raft of security measures put in place by the government for this year’s Hajj.

“People are really frustrated the way events are unfolding here. There are lack of flights to Saudi Arabia and we are appealing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help us seek for a solution,” said Mr Omar who is among the pilgrims stranded at the airport.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Assistant Treasurer Abdalla Ali told journalists that they are in talks with the Saudi government to ensure all pilgrims travel for the Hajj.

“It is true we are stranded and if this problem is not sorted out we are likely to miss out on Hajj since from tomorrow there will be no flights completely. We are in talks with Saudi Arabia and we are requesting them to send us a plane whose capacity can accommodate all pilgrims who are were set to travel in the morning, midday and tonight,” said Mr Abdalla.

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