Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The planned evacuation of Nigerians stranded in UK amid the pandemic has suffered a delay as British authorities denied a Nigerian airline, Air Peace, landing permit.
The evacuation flight which was earlier scheduled to depart London Heathrow airport on Monday is now billed for Gatwick airport on Tuesday.
The Spokesman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, disclosed in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, saying a UK airline, Air Partner will now operate the flight.
Sequel to the refusal of the UK to grant diplomatic landing clearance to Air Peace, the Federal Government said it appealed to the airline to engage the services of an alternative airline to airlift the stranded citizens instead of refunding their payments, hence the use of Air Partner, one of the Global Air Charter companies advised by the British authorities.
The statement read, “It is pertinent to note that Air Peace gracefully contracted Air Partner to operate these charter flights on its behalf at a much higher cost than the ticket fares paid by the prospective evacuees.
“In the light of the foregoing, the Federal Government wishes to extend its appreciation to the chairman and management of Air Peace Limited for their commitments and patriotism in ensuring that our stranded nationals in the United Kingdom return home safely.”
The refusal to grant Air Peace landing rights is coming against the backdrop of the evacuation of about 2,000 British nationals from Nigeria by British Airways after receiving special landing rights from the FG.