Nigeria-based airline, Air Peace, has announced suspension of its flights on the Lagos-Johannesburg route effective August 22, 2022. The airlines hopes to restart operations by October 8 if the situation abates.
Air Peace said the suspension is as a result of delay in issuance of South African visas to travellers by the Embassy. The airline said this has worsened the subsisting challenges of lack of forign exchange, high cost and scarcity of aviation fuel.
The airline said it has informed the South African High Commission of the challenge of delay in issuance of visas, which leads to reduced number of travellers to South Africa and therefore unsustainable flight services with fewer passengers. It expects the situation to abate in the next 60 days, hence it has set its resumption date on October 8.
Air Peace said passengers whose flights are affected by this suspension have the option to reschedule and fly before August 22 or from October 9. Passengers can also request for refund through firstname.lastname@example.org, as it apologized for the inconvenience the suspension would cause air travellers.
The delay in issuance of South African visas is one of the challenges facing accelerated economic integration and intra-Africa tourism, among other socio-economic activities in Africa. The requirement for visas is rife among many African States. This is expected to be addressed by the African Union Commission (AUC) which is driving the pillars of economic transformation in Africa under the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU Agenda2063).
Rwanda in particular is leading Africa’s quest for easy access and free movement of Africans within Africa, and this has seen increase in the number of visitors to the East African Country for tourism and business. A number of other African countries are also showing interest to eliminate barriers to travellers.
According to the AU, progress is being made in implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to allow free flow of trade and movement of persons in Africa.
“Nevertheless, the start of trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1 January 2021—following a six-month delay—provided a potent symbol of Africa’s deepening commitment to integrate. Despite the challenging environment, a number of important steps were taken to implement the new trade regime. Negotiations on the rules of origin progressed significantly, 29 countries submitted fully compliant schedules of
tariff concessions, and 44 countries submitted their schedules of specific commitments on trade in services in five priority sectors: business, communications, financial, tourism and travel, and transport services. A mechanism for reporting non-tariff barriers also began operating and will help to address the numerous obstacles and impediments to trade.”
Nigeria and South Africa are among Africa’s biggest economies serving their regions. It is expected that such challenges limiting movement of persons and by extension airlines are urgently resolved by joint efforts of States, regional economic communities and the AU. Besides the challenge of restricted movement of persons, airlines are currently facing reduction in passenger and cargo demand due to unavoidably high cost of ticket fares driven by high fuel costs and high exchange rates which significantly raise cost of operation for airlines.