Posted by News Express | 27 February 2020 | 1,414 times
By CHARLES LWUOHA
The Leadership Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Network (LEAN), a non-governmental organisation, on Wednesday urged the National Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to investigate alleged Qatar Airways' extortion of Nigerians through its stop-over programme.
The Executive Director of the group, Mr Chukwuma Okenwa, made the call in Enugu while briefing newsmen on the undiplomatic practice of the airline that extort at least N100,000 from each Nigerian on a stop-over programme Nigerians are ineligible.
According to Okenwa, the group wants to draw your attention on how the Qatar Airlines is extorting unsuspecting Nigerians under the guise of a Qatar stop-over and transit Visa programme which they claim can be applied by only passengers of Qatar Airlines.
“The group pleads that you (NCAA) use your good offices to launch a prompt investigation into this matter and you will discover the huge sums of money that Nigerians are losing daily by opting for a stop-over program which they are largely ineligible for.
“Recall that even up till now the Qatar Embassy in Nigeria is not yet issuing out visas to Nigerians.
“The group will also appreciate any assistance to help Nigerians recover some of the monies cited above which was paid based on an impression created by the airline of a stop-over programme offer,” he said.
The executive director also narrated the recent ordeal he suffered in the hands of the airline, which the Qatar Embassy was unwillingly to take responsibility for unethical and undiplomatic actions of the Qatar-state owned airline.
“Last month I booked a flight ticket on Qatar Airways to Singapore and added the stop-over programme which was an option on their booking template and at the same time attracted an additional fare of over N100,000 to include on my flight itinerary.
“Also as part of the stop-over program one is required to book a 4-star/5-star hotel, which is designated by the airline as the hotels selected for the Stop-over programme.
“Interestingly, after paying for the hotel, I saw from the receipt that it was non-refundable, but then I did not bother on the ground that if I was fulfilling all of the required condition, it should translate to taking part in the stop-over offer.
“I equally booked some transit tours on their website just to ensure I leave no stone unturned. On December 2, 2019, I applied for the transit visa through the link provided on the Qatar Airways site and was notified on December 8, 2019 that my request for transit was not approved and that I was required to visit the Qatar Airways office to rebook my ticket.
“I reached out to the booked hotel in Doha who were willing to assist, but when they reach out to Qatar transit visa, they were informed that the Qatari immigration are not accepting tourist visas application from certain nationals and unfortunately, Nigeria nationals are involved,” Okenwa said.
According to him, at this point it was obvious that all the odds were against me the passenger; losing the initial difference of over N100,000 on the stop-over option while re-booking my ticket.
Okenwa, who is Strategic Partner, National Orientation Agency (NOA), said: “Paying an additional N147,020 to forfeit the stop-over ticket which I already paid for.
“Losing over N10,000 as cancellation fees for the transit tours I booked on their Qatar Airways site (Via the Discover Qatar Icon), for which I was told that it will take up to three weeks to refund me the balance.”
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