Nigeria Bows to Canada, Cancels Air Peace Planned Evacuation of Nigerians - THISDAY
BY Chinedu Eze
As predicted by industry pundits, the federal government has finally bowed to Canada High Commission in Abuja by cancelling the planned evacuation of stranded Nigerian in Canada by the indigenous carrier, Air Peace.
The airlift was in continuation of evacuation exercise, which has been ongoing since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, as Nigeria started evacuating its citizens from abroad over a fortnight ago.
After the initial airlift of Nigerians by foreign carriers, including Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates and British Airways, the federal government vowed that Nigerian airlines would subsequently be evacuating Nigerians, as many other countries have been doing.
But a letter from the Nigeria High Commission in Nigeria, dated May 20, 2020 with the reference number: NHC/OTT/ADM.56/I with the head: Update on the Flight Postponement,’ and made available to THISDAY, said that the government opted out of the Air Peace arrangement because the Canadian Government expressed reservations concerning the granting of the necessary clearance/landing permit for Air Peace to fly into Canada, due to safety concerns.
The government in the letter agreed that Air Peace airfare was the most convenient and cost effective of all the airlines contacted for the airlift of Nigerians back to the country, but the concern of Canadian government compelled it to cancel the agreement with the airline.
The letter read in part: “The mission therefore engaged a number of airlines and eventually came up with an arrangement and pricing structure with Air Peace, which no other airline was able to match. You will recall that in our Public Notice of 12th May, 2020, the High Commission announced that the Canadian government had expressed reservations concerning the granting of the necessary clearance/landing permit to Air Peace to fly into Canada, due to safety concerns.”
“Kindly be informed that after protracted engagement, the Canadian Government, has unfortunately reverted with what appears to be a final refusal. As a result, the Air Peace Limited arrangement is hereby cancelled.”
In response to this development, Air Peace management has reached out to the evacuees by writing to them and requesting that they should come for the refund of their money.
The letter said, “Dear Esteemed Guests, we regretfully wish to inform you that we have not been given landing permit by Canada as at today. We are not unaware of the trauma the protracted delay has caused you. We do not want to continue holding on to this for your sake. We truly care for our people hence the kind of fare we asked you to pay for your trip to which you did gladly pay.
“You have waited for this opportunity to fly, proudly, a Nigerian airline to this destination but it was not meant to be. We are a nation that believes in God Almighty. In this and, for everything, may we gladly be thankful to God.
Our trust is in Almighty God. He is our refuge. To this end therefore, we humbly request that you apply for a refund of the money you paid for this trip. We are giving you everything you paid to us; we shall bear the cost of the bank charges ourselves.
“An African airline has been chosen. Please do kindly go over to them as soon as you can so you are not left behind. We thank our Federal Government for standing firmly behind us.”