Saudi Arabia authorities have cancelled the visas of all the 264 passengers airlifted by Air Peace on arrival on their arrival to the country from Kano State.
It was gathered that the flight took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano on Sunday night and arrived in Jeddah on Monday without issues.
However, on landing, the Saudi Arabian authorities announced that all the passengers’ visas were cancelled and insisted that the airline should return them to Nigeria.
A source who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard that all the passengers and the airline personnel were shocked at the cancellation of the visas because during check the passengers went through the Advanced Passengers Prescreening System, (APPS), which was 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 has been recording a high load factor and even the flight expected to leave on Tuesday to Jeddah was already fully booked.
He said when the Nigerian embassy waded in, Saudi authorities were said to have reduced the number of passengers that would be returned to 170 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 a Nigerian carrier, it helps to conserve foreign exchange for the country.
A source from the Nigerian embassy in Jeddah said that even the Saudi immigration 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 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.”