The Deputy Governor of Bauchi state, Alhaji Sagir Saleh on Sunday, said 530 intending pilgrims in the state left for Saudi Arabia via the new Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi.
In his farewell message to the pilgrims, Saleh said the government had wanted to start transporting pilgrims from the airport since in 2013.
He said the plan was truncated by some challenges until it was fully completed and certified for use.
He said N1.3 billion was spent on its construction which took four years to complete.
“With 3.4 kilometres runway, the airport has a capacity to accommodate five Boeing 747 aircraft at a time,’’ he said.
The deputy governor urged the intending pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state and the country.
Earlier, the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Sulaiman, said the pilgrims would pray for peace and the security of the country.
He said the team he would lead to the holy land would do everything possible to ensure that the state pilgrims were safe.
The Commissioner for Religious Affairs in the state, Alhaji Ahmed Barau, said six aircraft were scheduled to transport the 2, 296 pilgrims who were expected to travel to the holy land through the airport in 2014.
He said that those to be airlifted would include the medical team and other officials of the state’s Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board.
The first flight took off at 12.11 p.m. (NAN)