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Outrage as Canada rejects Air Peace to evacuate Nigerians

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The Canadian authorities’ refusal to grant Air Peace landing right to evacuate Nigerians in Canada has created outrage with stakeholders, including the House of Representatives.

Canada High Commission in Nigeria made a separate arrangement with Ethiopian Airlines to airlift Nigerians in Canada, thereby forcing Air peace to refund fare to 319 passengers who have already booked for the flight.

The federal government had designated Air Peace, Nigeria’s biggest indigenous carrier, to evacuate stranded Nigerians in Canada, but the evacuation was stalled following the refusal of the Canadian authorities to grant the airline permit, citing safety concerns which sources and industry stakeholders say were “undefined and nebulous.”

The federal government through the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, Geoffrey Onyeama and Senator Hadi Sirika, have also insisted that the Air peace must evacuate Nigerians in the North American country.

However, last week, the Canadian government finally refused Air Peace the right to evacuate Nigerians from their country.

The refusal was conveyed in a letter by the Nigerian High Commission in Canada dated May 20, 2020, with reference number NHS/OTT/ADM.56/1 titled: Update on the Flight postponement.

Air Peace according to the letter, gave the best pricing compared to other airlines, charging USD$1,134 per passenger as against the sum of USD$2,500 charged by the Ethiopian Airline.

“After protracted engagement, the Canadian government has unfortunately reverted with what appears to be a final refusal. As a result, the Air Peace arrangement is cancelled.

“During the negotiation with Air Peace, the issue of refunds was addressed in the event that the flight did not hold due to unforeseen circumstances and as such, everyone will get refunds for their tickets from Air peace as agreed.

“In the meantime, the Nigerian High Commission is working assiduously to secure an alternative arrangement to get you home as soon as possible, safely and at the least cost possible. Further updates will be communicated in due course,” the letter read.

Outraged by this development, the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has summoned the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Aviation and agencies directly or indirectly involved in the earlier evacuation flights handled by the British Airways, Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines from the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and America to appear before it on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

The committee chairman, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, queried the persistent refusal by the Canadian authorities to grant Air Peace the right to evacuate stranded Nigerians. Also, the Aviation Safety Roundtable Initiative (ART) expressed displeasure at the botched Air Peace Airline evacuation flight for stranded Nigerians in Canada.

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