By Peters Monday, Abuja
Upset Air Peace on Wednesday faulted the Saudi Arabian authorities over the cancellation of visas of 264 passengers airlifted by the company from Nigeria on the grounds of incorrect information.
According to a statement published earlier Wednesday, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia defended the visa cancellation, alleging that the passengers did not meet the Arab nation’s rules and regulations.
While reacting, Air Peace in a statement published on the company’s X (formerly Twitter) and signed by the airline’s chief operating officer Oluwatoyin Olajide, said that the visa cancellation was not the fault of the company.
The Airline authorities said, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided a visa confirmation platform that was used to verify the passengers’ visas before they were allowed to check in for the flight.
The statement reads, “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,” Air Peace said.
“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 used this system to determine the admissibility or otherwise of each passenger on that flight.”
Air Peace stated that the names of the passengers were sent to Saudi Arabia’s national travel security center before the company’s flight took off from Nigeria.
“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,” the airline said.
“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.”
“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 explanation for the sudden and unexpected cancellation of the visas,” the airline noted.