JUST-IN: Visas Of 264 Nigerian Passengers Cancelled On Arrival In Saudi Arabia

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on Monday, cancelled the visas of all 264 passengers airlifted by Nigeria’s private carrier, Air Peace, on arrival in Jeddah from Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) Kano.
The Saudi, however, insisted that the airline should return the passengers back to Nigeria.
However, after the intervention of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of affected passengers was reduced from 264 to 177.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the flight took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, via the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano on Sunday night and arrived Saudi Arabia’s major city on Monday without issues but on landing, the Saudi Arabian authorities announced that all the passengers’ visas were cancelled.
A source said that all the passengers and the airline personnel were shocked at the cancellation of the visas because during check-in of the passengers they went through Advanced Passengers Prescreening System (APPS), which were also monitored by the Saudi Arabia authorities before the flight left Nigeria.
The source wondered whether what happened was a strategy to discourage the airline from operating to the destination because since it started the operation it had been recording high load factor and even the flight was expected to leave on Tuesday to Jeddah was already fully booked.
When the Nigerian embassy waded into matter, Saudi authorities were said to have reduced the number of passengers that would be returned to 177 from 264.
Saudi Air has been operating directly from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia and since Air Peace started flight service to the Middle East nation at relatively lower fares, it has been receiving high patronage and as Nigerian carrier, it helps to conserve foreign exchange for the country.
A source from the Nigerian embassy in Jeddah said that even the Saudi Immigrations personnel said that they didn’t know who cancelled the visas but that they were cancelled when the airline was already airborne to Jeddah.
The source said, “The airline was exonerated in all this as the Advanced Passenger Prescreening System (APPS) which is live between both countries would have screened out any invalid visa and its passenger. The system accepted all affected passengers and passed them on.”
Those deported were 177 passengers and Air Peace has already left with them back to Nigeria.
“They are on their way to Nigeria now,” the source said.
Industry observers attributed this to aeropolitics, noting that it was a way to force the Nigerian operator out of the route unless government intervenes, adopting the principle of reciprocity.



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