Date of Article:07/06/2001 Topic: Britain Relaxes Visa Policy
Author:Leo Aligwo,Abuja( Post Express ), Full Text of Article:
The British Government has relaxed its stringent policy for intending Nigerian visitors to the United Kingdom.
British High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr. Peter Thomas announced yesterday approval for the issuance of over 120,000 visas to Nigerians wishing to visit Britain.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the four-day Civil Aviation Policy Review Workshop at the NICON Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Thomas said that his home government has directed that visas should be given to qualified Nigerians to enable them travel to the UK.
To this end, the envoy assured that application for Visas by eligible Nigerian would be processed within 24 hours on receipt of such document.
He pointed out that more than one million Nigerians are resident in London, stressing that "A lot of Nigerians travel to London either to visit their relations or spend huge sums of money on certain business."
He traced the colonial bond between Nigeria and Britain, emphasising that yesterday's inaugural flight into Lagos by Virgin Atlantic Airline was a demonstration of British Government vision of equality for all airlines.
Thomas also noted that Nigeria is an important, large aviation market and re-echoed that: "Virgin Atlantic Airlines presence in Nigeria is to enable Nigerians make their journey without much difficulties."
Regarding the Virgin Airlines introductory flight to Lagos, the Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr. Richard Branson reiterated his pledge to bring down fares on the Lucrative Lagos-London route.
Branson also promised that the aviation industry and consumer would benefit from the airlines' services in Nigeria including introduction of African dishes aboard its flights and provision of jobs for qualified Nigerians.
The aviation minister Dr. Kema Chikwe had earlier explained that the UK airline which was allocated four flights per week on the Lagos-London route under the dual designation policy flyed 400 passengers into the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja yesterday.
She announced that the airline would commence normal passenger flights from London to Lagos effective July 16, 2000.
The Minister also announced that a committee has been set up to facilitate the resumption of flight operations on the Lagos-London route at the shortest possible time.