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Flight delays: Bear with us, operators beg passengers

Following persistent delays and cancellations of flights in the Nigerian airspace, operators have appealed to passengers to bear with them. They blamed recent flight delays…

Following persistent delays and cancellations of flights in the Nigerian airspace, operators have appealed to passengers to bear with them.

They blamed recent flight delays on inclement weather, saying the safety of passengers is the first consideration in airline operation.

Vice-President of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mr. Allen Onyema who spoke in an interview during the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) annual conference said no airline worth its salt would deliberately inconvenience its passengers by delaying or cancelling flights.

Onyema, who is also the Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, reiterated that due to the COVID-19 lockdown globally, the aircraft of most of the operators are stuck at maintenance hangars abroad, saying new airlines might not experience same because their planes are not yet due for c-checks.

He assured that by September, most of the planes would have been back from c-check.

Onyema said, “We are in a rainy season when there is thunderstorm. You may sit in Lagos and you are going to Abuja and you call your friend because passengers do that, when you tell them weather is not good, they might call their relations in Abuja, they would tell them everywhere is clear but they don’t understand that enroute weather also matters.

“And once you delay because of any reason, it affects the entire day. Every aircraft every day is planned to go to certain routes. Once anything happens on one of those planned routes, it would affect the others. It is like that all over the world.

“The other day a flight was going to Calabar, getting to Calabar, it couldn’t land. If that flight had landed in Calabar, they would have gone from Calabar to Abuja, from Abuja, they would go back to Calabar and back to Lagos.

“But the one that left Lagos to Calabar couldn’t land because of adverse weather. So they had to hover and after sometimes they turned back and landed in Port Harcourt. Over two hours delay occurred. It means that the passengers in Calabar waiting to go to Abuja would be delayed, those in Abuja waiting to go back to Calabar would be delayed, those of them in Calabar waiting to come to Lagos would be delayed. Any other route that was planned with that aircraft that day would experience delay. So these are things that cause delay. It is all over the world.”

Also speaking on the same line, the Director-General of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Prof. Mansur Matazu said South-West states are currently experiencing August anomalous weather characterized by less rainfall but general cloudiness.

He stressed the need for airlines to work more with the airlines in the area of getting accurate weather information.

He said, “The accuracy of our forecast is more than 90 percent and it is to provide this forecast at the airport level. We provide terminal aerodrome forecast. We are present in all the 24 airports and also all the four international airports because we have independent forecasting office where we do this.

“The beginning of the rainy season in the South is associated with thunderstorm and stormy weather which we have passed. What we are now, in the South-West, like Lagos and other states, we are experiencing anomalous August weather. We are beginning to see this since last week in July. So there is a lot of window of less rainfall activity but it will remain cloudy.”

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