It is unclear why the passengers, most of whom were visiting Saudi Arabia for Lesser Hajj, were denied entry.
Authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Sunday cancelled the visa of all the 264 passengers who arrived in Jeddah from Nigeria, Daily Trust reports.
It is unclear why the passengers, most of whom were visiting Saudi for Lesser Hajj, were denied entry.
Daily Trust reported that the flight took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano on Sunday night and landed at King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“But to the consternation of the airline staff, the Saudi Arabian authorities announced that all the passengers’ visas had been cancelled.”
The passengers arrived in Jeddah on Air Peace. This is barely one week since Air Peace launched a direct flight to Saudi Arabia.
A source who confirmed the development to Daily Trust said, “The screening of passengers from the MMIA and Kano Airport was thorough and there was no issue with the visas. These were people who were duly issued the visa and they passed through the advanced passenger information system which is accessible to both authorities in Lagos and Jeddah. We are surprised because this cancellation was announced when the flight already landed.
“We are suspecting this is a strategy to frustrate the Nigerian carrier out of the route, some people are definitely not happy with the option Air Peace is providing, the direct flight to Jeddah as against using another foreign airline which attracts higher fares the passengers went through the Advanced Passengers Information System (APIS) during the check-in formalities in Nigeria which was also monitored by the Saudi authorities.”
The newspaper gathered that it was when the Nigerian embassy waded in that Saudi authorities reduced the number of passengers that would be returned to 177 from 264.
As of the time of filing this report, the airline was on its way to Nigeria with the 177 passengers who were denied entry.
Daily Trust reports that before the commencement of direct flights by Air Peace, Saudia, a Saudi Arabian flag carrier, had been operating directly from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.