Antigua Airways aircraft in flight.
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua--Last Friday, allegations started to emerge that Antigua Airways was suspected of defrauding customers.
Antigua Airways denies such allegations and says it is working hard to improve customer service.
“Customers whose tickets had been deemed ‘null and void’ will be honoured by the airline pending payment for the upcoming flight,” said Opeyemi Olorunfemi, Antigua Airways Managing Director.
He explained on Friday that issuing refunds was simply out of their control because Stripe, the credit card processing company, halted customer payments from being released to the airline’s bank account due to the high risk of the transactions.
Emails between Antigua Airways and Stripe confirmed the airlines’ claims and that customers would be issued a refund.
Olorunfemi explained, “It is likely someone used a stolen credit card to purchase a flight, which triggered Stripe to withhold our funds and block future transactions.”
He continues, “Customers are receiving refunds; it’s simply a matter of time for all of the refunds to go through.”
According to Stripe, once the refund is issued it can take up to 15 days to show up in the customer’s bank account.
However, given the flight was just two weeks away, the airline’s best course of action was to ask customers to make a new payment directly to their bank account and explained it’s located in Canada, because Nigeria’s Central Bank set restrictions on foreign exchange, limiting withdrawals/spending in US dollars to $4,000 per month.
“The bank transfers are just a temporary solution for customers paying in USD [US dollars – Ed.], otherwise customers can pay at our office in Abuja.”
The airline is currently working to secure another online payment method given the recent events with Stripe.
With Christmas and New Year’s approaching, Antigua Airways is expecting the flight on December 23 to be full and has arranged for an additional flight on December 26.
Direct flights from Nigeria to the Caribbean are an exciting development for many Nigerians who wish to travel abroad for the holidays, as all other airlines with flight routes from Nigeria to the Caribbean pass through Europe, the US or Canada and require Nigerians to obtain a visa, which, because of strict immigration policies, is nearly impossible for most Nigerians.
Last year, the UK instituted a policy that Nigerian passport holders are required to acquire a transit visa simply to pass through its airport.
Sounds simple enough, but in order to qualify for a UK transit visa one must hold a visa to their final destination.
Given several Caribbean countries are visa-free for Nigerians, these governments have no reason to issue such a visa.
Thus, before Antigua Airways launched last month, Nigerians were essentially blocked from traveling to the Caribbean. While Antigua Airways’ upcoming holiday flights will be chartered by Euroatlantic Airways, the airline aspires to become a commercial airline, which would create a tremendous opportunity for tourism in Antigua and Barbuda, and the other Caribbean nations open to Nigerian tourists.
“Antigua Airways provides an important service not only for Nigerians but also for their foreign spouses who wish to plan a holiday in the Caribbean,” said Carolina Hathorn, a US citizen married to a Nigerian.
She reports that there are thousands of US citizens like her who, because of US immigration laws, wait years for their spouse’s visa to be approved and are looking to Antigua Airways to make it possible for couples to spend the holidays together in the Caribbean.
As a customer, Hathorn continues, “I’m grateful for Antigua Airways’ initiative and their recent improvements in customer service.”
Antigua Airways also took this opportunity to clarify that
Customers interested in the flight on December 26 can visit Antigua Airways’ website or Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/antiguaairwaysofficial/ for more information. ~ Antigua News Room ~