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Airpeace Airline suspends flights to South Africa because of visa delays and expensive jet fuel

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Nigerian carrier Air Peace has announced that flights to and from Johannesburg will be suspended from 22 August owing to visa processing delays, the rising price of jet fuel, and a “worsening forex crunch”.

Air Peace, headquartered at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja, Lagos State, has been operating scheduled flights to South Africa since December 2020. Travel disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with threats of flight suspension as recently as May have troubled Air Peace’s South African operations.

And while May’s mooted flight suspension was only narrowly avoided when the Nigerian government promised to intervene amid rising fuel costs, Air Peace’s already shaky South African route will be put on ice for more than a month.

We hereby inform the flying public that effective from 22 August 2022, our Johannesburg flight operations will be suspended till 8 October 2022,” Air Peace said via Twitter on 8 August.

“This development is regretted but has become inevitable due to the delayed issuance of South African visas to travellers, worsening forex crunch, and the increasing cost of aviation fuel as well as its scarcity.”

In Nigeria, two airlines have recently had their operations suspended: One for inability to maintain its fleet and the other because of several major breakdowns that occurred during flights.

Air Peace’s online booking platform confirmed the suspension of flights to and from Johannesburg, with no flights available during the period cited by the Nigerian carrier.

“However, having informed the South African High Commission in Lagos 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 in the next 60 days,” noted Air Peace.

The price of jet fuel has soared by more than 65% over the past year, according to leading energy information provider Platts, emanating from oil volatility amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These higher operating costs have been burdened by passengers, who are having to pay much more for flights.

But Air Peace’s exit from South Africa’s airspace won’t halt travel with Nigeria and is unlikely to result in skyrocketing airfares, with South African Airways (SAA) having added three weekly flights direct to Lagos in December 2021.

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