In response to the recent visa cancellation affecting 177 out of the 264 passengers who traveled to Jeddah on November 12, 2023, with Air Peace, the airline has issued a statement asserting that the cancellation was not the airline’s fault.
The airline in a statement signed by the Chief Operating Officer, Air Peace Limited, Oluwatoyin Olajide, said the clarification aims to address the confusion and conflicting commentaries circulating in the public domain.
She said Air Peace, as a scheduled flight operator with vast international operations experience, understands and complies with established protocols governing international flight operations and is not culpable of any infraction in this respect.
She said: “For the avoidance of doubts, Air Peace is a scheduled operator between Nigeria and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the said flight was indeed a SCHEDULED Flight and not a Chartered/UMRAH/HAJJ or any Special flight.
“This scheduled flight means we are allowed to airlift all categories of passengers with different types of Visas as long as their Visas are VALID and approved by the Saudi Arabian Authorities. We are not limited to UMRAH or HAJJ Visas alone on a scheduled flight.
“The visas of all passengers on the said flight to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia were checked and verified through the requisite procedures and were vetted to be valid before departure.
“The visas were verified using the visa confirmation platform provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia which confirmed the validity of each passenger visa before passengers were allowed to check-in for the flight.
“All the Visas of the 264 passengers were duly verified, confirmed, and accepted as authentic for the trip through the Visa Portal provided by the Saudi Arabia Authorities, if not, no passengers would have been able to depart from Nigeria. This is just one of two steps required before a passenger is accepted on the flight to Saudi Arabia.
“The next step is the use of the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS). We equally use this system to determine the admissibility or otherwise of each passenger on that flight.
“The APIS was live between Air Peace’s reservation system and the Saudi Arabia National Travel Security Center Carrier Portal to transmit passenger details prior to departure, to the Saudi Authorities in order to further determine the admissibility or otherwise of the passengers.
“No Notice of Cancellation or any form of denial from the Saudi Authorities was received against any of these passengers despite the live transmission of their details.
“Furthermore, the Passenger manifest containing the names of all passengers on board the flight was sent ahead to the Saudi Arabia National Travel Security Center Carrier Portal before the flight departure, yet no Notice of Visa cancellation was received against any of these passengers.
“We would like to reiterate that Air Peace strictly followed the profiling procedures stipulated by the Saudi Arabian Authorities and we are still shocked that upon arrival in Jeddah, the visas of our passengers were cancelled without any cogent explanation even till now.
“The immigration officers of Saudi Arabia were equally surprised that Valid Visas were cancelled the way it was done.
“While we empathize with the affected passengers for this development and assure them of our full compliance with the provisions guiding international travels, we wish to state that up till this moment, the Saudi Arabian authorities have not provided any explanations for the sudden and unexpected cancellation of the Visas.
“Air Peace has continued to cooperate with the Authorities to unravel the issues surrounding the Visa cancelation”.