Air Peace announced on Wednesday that its repatriation flight, scheduled to depart from Canada to Lagos on 14th May, has been postponed. The airline said in a statement that some logistic issues had prevented the Canadian government from allowing the flight to be operated. The Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa is in negotiations with the Canadian government to reschedule the flight to bring the Nigerian citizens home.
Nigerian High Commission is in talks with Ottawa
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, explained on Thursday that the flight could not operate because the Canadian government had denied landing rights to Air Peace. At the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the minister said that the Canadian government had refused to grant a landing permit to the carrier. This was because the airline does not have a license to undertake commercial flights to Canada.
He added that the Nigerian High Commission is currently engaging with the Canadian government on the issue. He stated that the challenges were because Air Peace was flying the route for the first time. In a statement carried by Africa News, he said,
“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 special flight, APK 8711, had planned to bring more than 200 Nigerians home from Canada to Lagos.
Why did Nigeria choose Air Peace
Air Peace, which was founded in 2013, is a private airline based in Lagos. The airline mainly operates flights within Africa, although international flights are offered three times a week to Sharjah, UAE. Air Peace had plans to expand its service to include other parts of Asia during 2020. However, COVID-19 forced the airline to suspend all its flights on 27th March.
A part of the issue in Canada was that the airline was not known for operating commercial flights, so why did Nigeria choose Air Peace to handle the repatriation flights from Canada?
The High Commission said that they opted for Air Peace because the airfare was more affordable than to the offers of other airlines that were contacted. This seems like a responsible choice from the Nigerian government and is in contrast to some other governments who have provided flights at a high cost.
Air Peace was also the only airline that offered to schedule flights departing from more than one location within Canada.
As part of measures to manage the COVID-19 situation in Nigeria, the Federal Government has extended the ban on local and international flights by 4 weeks.#lockdownextension #lockdown pic.twitter.com/VT3Ptn8dBP
— Air Peace (@flyairpeace) May 7, 2020
Nigeria wants to bring 4,000 citizens home
The flights scheduled from Canada were part of an operation to return 4,000 Nigerian citizens to the country following the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government has so far evacuated approximately 600 Nigerians from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK, and the US. Not all flights have gone as planned, though, as recently, a flight to Lagos from Dubai had to turn around as a passenger gave birth on board.
Do you think Air Peace should be allowed to land in Canada? Let us know in the comments.