Stakeholders in the aviation sector have strongly condemned the recent cancellation of Visa on Arrival issued to passengers traveling via Air Peace from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.
According to reliable sources, on landing at the Jeddah airport, the Saudi Arabia authorities announced that all the passengers’ visas were cancelled.
When the Nigerian embassy waded in, the Saudi government was said to have reduced the number of cancelled visas to 170 from 264. Hence, all affected passengers were airlifted back to Nigeria.
Attributing the development to aeropolitics, stakeholders reaaoned that it may be a tactics to force the Nigerian operator out of the route unless government intervened, adopting the principle of reciprocity.
Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, Group Captain John Ojikutu, advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should step in immediately and intervene in the case.
He said what happened showed why it is important for the Federal Government to stand strongly with any Nigerian carrier designated to operate international destinations.
Ojikutu said Nigeria should designate airlines approved to operate out of the country as flag carriers, noting that the United States had no national carrier, as all the airlines are supported by the government and designated as flag carriers.
“The action of the Saudi authorities is shocking. There is aeropolitics there and there is also diplomacy. There is need for the Nigerian government to stand firmly with Nigerian carriers and also designate them as flag carriers; so that other countries will know that they represent Nigeria.
“Government must come out and intervene. Government must be behind Air Peace now to ensure it is not denied its rights as contained in the Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA, between the two countries.
‘’The ministry of foreign affairs must not keep quiet. Nigeria must not keep quiet. Ideally, government is expected to stand behind any of the country’s airline it designates to fly overseas,” Ojikutu said.