Group to NCAA: Investigate Qatar Airways over alleged extortion of Nigerians

Posted by News Express | 6 March 2020 | 824 times

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The Leadership Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Network, a non-governmental organization, on Thursday called on 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 what he called “the undiplomatic practice of the airline that extort at least N100,000 from each Nigerian on a stop-over programme.”

The group said it wish to draw the attention of NCAA on how the Qatar Airways 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 Airways.

“The group pleads that NCAA use its good offices to launch a prompt investigation into this matter and 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,” Okenwa said.

He also narrated the recent ordeal he suffered in the hands of the airline, which the Qatar Embassy was unwillingly to take responsibility for the 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 program 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 program.

“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 02, 2019; I applied for the transit visa through the link provided on the Qatar Airways site and was notified on Dec. 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.

“Loosing 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,” he said.

Responding, Mr Wasana Gomes, Senior Customer Relations Officer of Qatar Airways, said that the State of Qatar implemented a revised tourism (transit) visa scheme for passengers transiting through Doha, giving them an opportunity to explore the city’s attractions and culture or by spending time with family and friends.

Gomes noted that accordingly, passengers now have the option to break their journey at Doha for a transit/stopover between five hours and 96 hours.

According to him, “We have gone through your email and we regret the unpleasant experience you had while processing your visa to Qatar.

“Whilst, we do not underestimate the inconvenience and difficulties experienced, however, we seek your understating that Qatar Airways is not responsible for the decisions taken by the immigration authorities.

“Entry into Qatar will be at the discretion of the immigration authorities.

“Qatar Airways offices only act as a processing agent for visa applications and therefore will not be liable for any expenses incurred should there be a delay in visa issuance or rejection from the Ministry of Interior, State of Qatar.

“We sincerely regret any disappointment caused on this occasion. We thank you for having taken time to write to us and the opportunity to respond.”

Source: News Express

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