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Saudi Arabia cancels visas of 264 Nigerian passengers upon arrival in Jeddah

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Saudi Arabia cancels visas of 264 Nigerian passengers upon arrival in Jeddah

Panic and shock reverberated as the Saudi Arabian authorities abruptly canceled the visas of all 264 passengers airlifted from Lagos and Kano to Jeddah on Sunday, compelling the airline to return them to Nigeria.

The flight, which departed from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, landed at King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah. Contrary to expectations, the Saudi Arabian authorities announced the cancellation of all passengers’ visas upon arrival.

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This move baffled airline staff, as the passengers had undergone rigorous screening, including the Advanced Passengers Information System (APIS) during check-in in Nigeria. Even more surprising was the fact that the Saudi authorities had monitored this process.

Air Peace, “having recently launched a direct flight to Jeddah, has been experiencing high demand for this route”. A source close to the matter expressed suspicions that the visa cancellation may be a deliberate attempt to hinder the Nigerian carrier’s operations and push for the use of more expensive foreign airlines.

In response, the Nigerian embassy intervened, resulting in a reduction of the number of passengers to be returned to Nigeria from 264 to 177.

At the time of this report, the airline was en route to Nigeria with the affected passengers, most of whom were traveling to perform lesser Hajj (Umrah).

“It’s worth noting that prior to Air Peace’s direct flight, Saudia, a Saudi Arabian flag carrier, had been the primary operator of direct flights from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia”.

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