Nigeria's Air Peace suspends S. Africa ops over visa delays - CH-AVIATION
Air Peace (P4, Lagos) has announced it is suspending its flights to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo from August 22 until October 8, 2022, citing as reasons delays in South Africa granting visas to Nigerian visitors, a worsening foreign exchange crunch, and the scarcity/price hike of aviation fuel.
"However, having informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting SA visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads on our flights to and from Johannesburg, we believe that the situation will have improved within the next 60 days. Hence, our willingness to resume operations on October 8, 2022," airline management announced in a statement posted on social media.
South Africa's Department of Home Affairs was not immediately available for comment.
The Department, at the end of June 2022, acknowledged a backlog in the granting of visas. It extended until September 30, 2022, a blanket temporary extension of the current visa status of all foreign nationals already in South Africa who are awaiting the outcome of their visa extension applications.
The backlog in visa processing is being caused by the introduction of a new immigration system in South Africa announced by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at the start of June, according to South African legal firm Webber Wentzel. Visa applications previously went through outsourced facilitation centres or through South African missions abroad. Now these visa applications are processed through a centralised system to achieve consistency and uniformity in the visa adjudication process.
Air Peace, along with other member airlines of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) association, last month issued a warning to passengers of Nigeria's worsening aviation fuel scarcity, saying it was "taking a toll on its flight operations, causing some delays and cancellations".
Meanwhile, the airline said passengers affected by the cancelled Johannesburg flights could reschedule to fly before August 22 or from October 9, 2022, or request a refund.
Air Peace operates 3x weekly between Johannesburg, Lagos and Abuja, using E190-E2, A320-200 (wet-leased from SmartLynx Airlines Malta), and B777-300 equipment, according to the ch-aviation schedules module.