The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace Allen Onyema on Thursday described the Saudi visa incident as unusual, saying his airline followed every established protocol in airlifting Nigerians to the Middle East nation.
On Monday, the Saudi Arabian government cancelled the visa of all the 264 passengers airlifted by Nigeria’s major carrier, Air Peace, on arrival at the country from Kano, insisting that they be returned to Nigeria.
As a result, 177 passengers were made to return on the same flight back to Nigeria, while 87 passengers were cleared by immigration and allowed entry into Jeddah.
But Onyema has exonerated his airline of any wrongdoing.
“It looks unusual because we followed every protocol and procedure,” he said. “We are not in the business of issuing visas as an airline,” he said on Thursday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today.
Onyema explained that before the plane left for Saudi Arabia, the airline got clearance regarding the visa verification portal as well as the Advanced Passenger Information System put in place by the Saudi authorities.
“We put through there, it passed. We sent the manifest ahead, we got all those clearances before we left the country.
“What I am saying has been corroborated by the Saudi Arabian Embassy. What they are saying actually exonerated the airline. They said ‘they are not denying the fact that they (Nigerians) have visas.
“What they are saying they discovered is that the information they gave them was for the wrong visas. It is like maybe you are going for medical treatment and you procured a tourism visa,” he added.