The United Kingdom government has declined to grant Diplomatic Landing Clearance to Air Peace Limited to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Britain due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by Ferdinand Nwoye, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday.

According to the ministry, the evacuation flights that were initially scheduled to take off from London Heathrow to Abuja and Lagos on Monday will now depart on Tuesday.

It also announced that the departure will now be from Gatwick Airport, London, with an alternative airline recommended by the British government.

The statement read: “Consequently, the Federal Government appealed to Air Peace to engage the services of an alternative airline to airlift our 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.

“It is pertinent to note that, Air Peace gracefully contracted Air Partner to operate these chartered flights on its behalf at a much higher cost than the tickets fares paid by the prospective evacuees.”

The Federal Government, however, commended the Chairman, Air Peace Limited, Allen Onyema, and the airlines’ management for facilitating the evacuation of Nigerians in the UK.

“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 statement read.

The Federal Government noted that it regrets any inconvenience these changes might have caused to the affected Nigerians.