Nigerians stranded in the United Kingdom who were booked to be evacuated by an Air Peace flight were delayed as British authorities refused to grant the airline a landing permit.

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The evacuation flight which was earlier scheduled to depart London Heathrow airport on Monday is now billed for Gatwick airport on Tuesday.

The Spokesman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, disclosed in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, announcing that a UK airline, Air Partner will now operate the flight.

Sequel to the refusal of the UK to grant diplomatic landing clearance to Air Peace, the Federal Government said it appealed to the airline to engage the services of an alternative airline to airlift the stranded citizens instead of refunding their payments, hence the use of Air Partner, one of the Global Air Charter companies advised by the British authorities.

The statement read, “It is pertinent to note that Air Peace gracefully contracted Air Partner to operate these charter flights on its behalf at a much higher cost than the ticket fares paid by the prospective evacuees.

It also noted that instead of the Heathrow Airport as earlier planned, the flight would be taking off from the Gatwick Airport, London.

The Federal Government, however, commended the Chairman, Air Peace Limited, Allen Onyema, and the airlines’ management “for their commitment and patriotism in ensuring that our stranded nationals in the United Kingdom return home safely.”

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“In the light of the foregoing, the Federal Government wishes to extend its appreciation to the chairman and management of Air Peace Limited for their commitments and patriotism in ensuring that our stranded nationals in the United Kingdom return home safely.”

The government noted that to make the airlifting of the citizens possible, Air Peace had to, following an appeal by the government, engage the services of another airline, Global Air Charter, instead of refunding the fares made by the stranded Nigerians.

“The Federal Government, however, regrets any inconvenience these changes might have caused,” the statement added.