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Air Peace: Saudi Arabia Visa Cancellation Not Our Fault

The Saudi Embassy in Abuja said those denied entry submitted wrong information to obtain their visa, thus denying them entrance.

The management of Air Peace has said that the cancellation of the Visa’s of the Nigerians who flew with their airline to Jeddah is not their fault, saying that they followed every profiling procedure that was stipulated by the Saudi Arabian Authorities, and all passengers were cleared for travel.

This came as the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja said the authorities had denied the visas of the said travellers and denied them entry into the country as the passengers has allegedly submitted incorrect information which made them obtain a category of visa that does not apply to them.

The statement, which was signed by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Air Peace, Oluwatoyin Olajide, explained that Air Peace is a scheduled operator between Nigeria and Jeddah, and the trip taken was not a special flight.

The statement read, “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 Centre 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 Centre Carrier Portal before the flight departure, yet no Notice of Visa cancellation was received against any of these passengers.”

The airline management then noted that it had come as a shock to them, as well as the Saudi Arabia immigration officers, when the visas of their passengers were cancelled “without any cogent explanation even till now.”

Air Peace then apologized to the passengers involved and assured them that they are constantly compliant with the provisions that guide international travel.

However, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja also released a press statement explaining their country’s side on the matter, which read, “The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Abuja would like to make a clarification about the media reports and Social Media releases concerning the deportation of Nigerian citizens at the point of entry into the Kingdom. The passengers whom were denied entry, and subsequently deported to their initial destinations, didn’t fulfill the entry conditions and requirements in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the Kingdom, as they submitted incorrect information to obtain a category of visa that doesn’t apply to them, which was discovered upon their arrival.”

They then added that this procedure was carried out with citizens of other countries as well, and not just limited to Nigerian citizens, advising all travellers to properly review all their documents to make sure that they comply with the conditions to be granted access into Saudi Arabia.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi