Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama has admitted that the Canadian Government denied landing rights to Air Peace Airlines scheduled for evacuation duty on grounds that the airline does not have a license to undertake commercial flights to Canada.
The planned evacuation of over 200 Nigerians in Canada had suffered a setback following the refusal of the Canadian government to grant landing permit to the designated carrier, Air Peace Airlines.
Onyeama, responding to a question on what will become the fate of the Nigerians affected by the development, stated: “It is true the Canadian Government denied landing rights to a Nigerian carrier scheduled for evacuation duty, on grounds that the airline does not have a license to undertake commercial flights to Canada. Our High Commissioner is engaging with the Canadian government on this issue.
“The argument our High Commissioner is making is that this is not a regular commercial flight, but instead an emergency evacuation flight. So negotiations are ongoing with the Canadian government,” the foreign minister said.
The Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa said in a statement that “due to some logistics issues that are beyond the control of the High Commission (failure to secure overflight and landing permits from the Canadian authorities in time), the Air Peace special flight No. APK 8711 that was earlier scheduled to depart from Canada to Nigeria on Thursday, 14 May, 2020 will not be taking place as previously scheduled.”
The High Commission said the challenges were as a result of the fact that Air Peace was flying the route for the first time.
“The High Commission opted for Air Peace because the airfare was relatively more affordable compared to the offers of other airlines that were contacted, coupled with the fact that only Air Peace had agreed to convey the evacuees from more than one location in Canada.
“The High Commission is awaiting information on the overflight and landing permit from the Canadian authorities and the new date would be communicated as soon as the clearance is secured. Any inconveniences caused by this painful development is highly regretted.”