By Ignatius Ushie
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has noted, with great concern, the experiences of air travelers to and from the Murtala Muhammed International airport Lagos regarding flight diversions and, in many cases, outright cancellations, which have been occasioned by highly inclement weather conditions.
In a Press Statement made available to Transport Day in Abuja, the Minister regretted the suffering and time wasted by passengers adding that the government is not sleeping on the issue.
According to him, “while these developments are greatly regretted, we wish to let the public know that the authorities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos are in the process of replacing the old Category 2 Instrument Landing Systems with the newly procured Category 3 system that allows for the lowest visibility landing. Unfortunately, there was a malfunctioning of certain components, which, coupled with the unforeseen weather conditions, made landing at the airport difficult.” he said.
The procurement of the Category 3 Instrument Landing System is in pursuance of the desire of the Federal Government to ensure the safety of air passengers by ensuring that airplanes can land with almost zero visibility. He reassured the public and the airlines that efforts are on to return the system to full working condition and that normalcy of operations will be re-established in due course.
Speaking on the diversion of incoming international flights to neighbouring countries, Serika said the decisions to divert the flight are purely those of the airlines which “we have no control over.”
“However, it should be noted that those flights could, and should have been rerouted to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja which is shorter or equidistant from Lagos to the foreign airports to which some of the flights have been diverted.”
The Minister stated further that in recognition of Abuja as an alternate airport, Qatar airlines has applied to divert its flights to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, to which the Minister granted immediate approval. “It is left to be seen why some others decided to divert to another country.
“We wish to use this medium to assure the general public that the comfort, safety and security of the flying populace remains the central focus of this administration and that no effort would be spared in ensuring this”, Serika noted.
By Ignatius Ushie