An Air Peace flight with 264 passengers en-route from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia was forced to turn back.
According to The Guardian Nigeria, on arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi authorities allegedly ordered the plane to return with 177 of the passengers to Nigeria.
As reported by Business Day Nigeria, Saudi authorities had on Monday cancelled the entry visas of 177 of the 264 passengers, with only 87 allowed entry into the kingdom.
Initially, all 264 passengers’ visas were cancelled, but upon further checks, 87 had their visas re-issued.
Abdulaziz Sabitu, managing director of the Arafat Air Service Nigeria, told Business Day that the affected passengers were denied entry into the country because they didn’t have the required visas.
“I think the incidence occurred due to lack of familiarity of the management of Air Peace with the complexity associated with airlifting passengers into a highly regulated society like Saudi Arabia,” Sabitu told the publication.
The passengers on-board the Air Peace flight from Kano, Nigeria, were on their way for Umrah.
To qualify for this type of visa, Sabitu explained that passengers had to be in possession of a return air ticket. The same applies to business visas.
“However, information shows that it was only the 87 out of the 264 passengers which the airline lifted to Jeddah that have with them returned ticket.
“The remaining 177 of the passengers that were returned were said to have only one-way ticket, a development that might have triggered a fear that they are not planning to come back to Nigeria,” he concluded.
However, an unnamed airline official shared a different story with The Guardian Nigeria.
According to them, the incident came as a shock because “during check-in of the passengers, they went through Advanced Passengers Prescreening System (APPS), which were also monitored by the Saudi Arabia authorities before the flight left Nigeria”.