Saudi Arabia Cancels Visas for 264 Nigerian Passengers at Jeddah Airport Amid Tinubu’s Visit

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Cancels Visas, Sparks Turmoil for 264 Nigerian Passengers.

 

In an unexpected turn of events, Saudi Arabian authorities sent shockwaves through the aviation community by canceling the visas of all 264 passengers airlifted to Jeddah from Lagos and Kano on Sunday. The authorities insisted that the airline, Air Peace, should return the passengers to Nigeria.

The flight originated from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, passed through the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano, and landed at King Abdul-Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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However, upon arrival, airline staff were taken aback when the Saudi Arabian authorities announced the cancellation of all passengers’ visas.

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This surprising move occurred despite the passengers undergoing thorough screening, including the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) during check-in formalities in Nigeria, a process monitored by the Saudi authorities.

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Air Peace, which recently launched a direct flight to Jeddah, has been experiencing high demand for its services. Sources speculate that the cancellation might be a strategic move to hinder the Nigerian carrier, as some individuals may not appreciate the alternative Air Peace provides with its direct flight, potentially challenging other foreign airlines with higher fares.

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A source commented, “We are suspecting this is a strategy to frustrate the Nigerian carrier out of the route.” The situation took a diplomatic turn when the Nigerian embassy intervened, resulting in Saudi authorities reducing the number of passengers to be returned from 264 to 177.

At the time of reporting, the airline was en route to Nigeria with the 177 passengers who were denied entry, most of them heading to perform the lesser Hajj (Umrah).

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This incident coincides with a visit by President to the country for a summit. The President proceeded for the lesser Hajj at the end of the summit, engaging with influential figures in the Arabic country.

It’s worth noting that before Air Peace introduced its direct flight, Saudia, a Saudi Arabian flag carrier, had been operating direct flights from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia. The unfolding events raise questions about the dynamics between Nigerian carriers and established foreign airlines in this crucial international route.

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