The Saudi Arabian authorities cancelled the visas of all the 264 passengers airlifted to Jeddah from Lagos and Kano on Sunday.
The development comes as rude shock and utter disbelief when at a time when President Bola Tinubu recently visited the country for a summit.
The authorities insisted that the airline should return them to Nigeria.
The flight took off from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, via the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, on Sunday night and landed at King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
But to the consternation of the airline staff, the Saudi Arabian authorities announced that all the passengers’ visas had been cancelled.
Despite the fact that the passengers went through the Advanced Passengers Information System (APIS) during the check-in procedures in Nigeria, which the Saudi authorities also monitored.
Chronicle NG reports that Air Peace penultimate week launched a direct flight to Jeddah, which has been recording a high load factor.
A source who confirmed the development said, “The screening of passengers from the MMIA and Kano Airport was thorough, and there was no issue with the visas. These were people who were duly issued the visa, and they passed through the advanced passenger information system, which is accessible to both authorities in Lagos and Jeddah. We are surprised because this cancellation was announced when the flight had already landed.
“We are suspecting this is a strategy to frustrate the Nigerian carrier out of the route; some people are definitely not happy with the option Air Peace is providing, the direct flight to Jeddah, as opposed to using another foreign airline that attracts higher fares.”
It was learned that it was when the Nigerian embassy waded in that Saudi authorities reduced the number of passengers that would be returned to 177 from 264.
As of the time of filing this report, the airline was on its way to Nigeria with the 177 passengers that were denied entry; the majority of them were going to perform lesser Hajj (Umrah).
The Nigerian leader also proceeded for lesser Hajj at the end of the summit, where he met the high and mighty in the Arabic country.
Chronicle NG reports that prior to the commencement of direct flights by Air Peace, Saudia, a Saudi Arabian flag carrier, had been operating directly from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.