More Calls For Air Peace To Be Designated A Flag Carrier As Airline Increases Routes

Air Peace’s ‘Cheaper Flight Ticket’ To Jeddah May Account For Cancellation Of 264 Passengers’ Visas On Arrival – Analyst

7 months ago
2 mins read

Reactions have continued to trail the cancellation of visas of 264 passengers of Air Peace airline on arrival in Jeddah on Monday by Saudi authorities.

The Saudi authorities ordered the airline to return the passengers to Nigeria.

The flight took off from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and passing through the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano on Sunday, night arrived in Saudi Arabia’s major city without incident on Monday.

However, upon landing, Saudi Arabian authorities declared that all of the passengers’ visas had been revoked. This development left the passengers and flight crew wondering what had gone wrong.

The airline reportedly affirmed that the passengers went through the Advanced Passengers Prescreening System (APPS), which was also monitored by the Saudi Arabian authorities before the flight left Nigeria.

This occurred at a time Nigeria participated in the Saudi-Africa Summit where bilateral discussions covering several sectors of the economy and mutually beneficial commitments were made.

The development has led to speculations that it could be a way of discouraging the airline from operating the route. Prime Business Africa gathered that since the airline began the flight operation to Jeddah from Nigeria, it has been recording a high load factor.

Reacting to the incident Chika Mbonu, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of KSBC Advisory Partners Limited said the incident points to aero politics which has to do with competition for routes among airlines.

Saudi authorities are yet to give their own side of the story on what happened and whether there was any infraction of aviation protocols.

Prime Business Africa understands that Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA). BASA is an air transport agreement between two countries that permits approved airlines to conduct commercial flights that include the transport of both passengers and cargo, hence liberalizing the commercial civil aviation services between the involved nations.

What fuels the speculations of aero politics in the Air Peace incident is that prior to the commencement of flight operations to Jeddah by Air Peace, Saudi Air had been almost the only airline operating the route.  Ethiopian Airlines offered an alternative to Nigerian travelers.

Mbonu, while featuring on Arise News Global Business Update programme on Tuesday, said he spoke with some travel agents who revealed that for the past two weeks since Air Peace began operating the route, the ticket price between Air Peace and Saudi Air is about N400,000 difference, with Air Peace offering a cheaper price.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Airlines Spend Millions Of Dollars On Aircraft Maintenance Abroad Due To Lack Of MROs – Onyema

He said: “For the economy seats the ticket price between Air Peace and Saudi Air is about N400,000 difference with Air Peace cheaper. So, Nigerians were getting cheaper tickets and Air Peace getting full load. And remember that Air Peace flies straight to Jeddah, just like the Saudi flight and it’s cheaper. So, you can imagine that. It, therefore, explains why Air Peace, since it started, has been getting full load and that has taken away bread and fruit from the mouth of Saudi Air.

“The other alternative airline, which is Ethiopia Airlines for example, was more expensive than Air Peace by about N150,000, but the layover in Addis Ababa is about three to four hours going and about three hours coming back. So, you find out that to all intents and purposes, Air Peace had a competitive advantage to take the route.”

The business analyst concluded that until Saudi authorities speak on the matter, and there is any other infraction, “We believe this is due to aviation politics.”


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