Flight delays have worsened in recent times over the persisting scarcity of aviation fuel known as Jet A1 as well as the closure of the domestic runway of the Murtala Muhammad Airport (MMA), Lagos, findings by Daily Trust have shown.
Daily Trust reports that with the closure of Runway 18L for installation of CAT III Airfield Ground Lighting system, all domestic flights have been diverted to Runway 18R serving the international flights.
Though most international flights arrive and take off at nights, operators said the development is causing chaos and disruption to domestic flights even as passengers continue to lament flight delays.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had on July 9 closed the runway for the installation which has since commenced.
FAAN had appealed to operators to bear with the government as it tries to correct an anomaly which has been there for over a decade, adding that the operators would be the ultimate beneficiaries.
But some operators have kicked against the total closure, saying the development would breed chaos in the air traffic management system.
CEO of Westlink Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia, had said, “Closing it completely will create heavy arrival and departure aerial traffic and ground traffic (aircraft go slow). ATC will be stacking aircraft overhead Lagos crazily and will overwhelm them with the epileptic radar, making things even far worse.”
However, airlines said the closure has worsened the flight disruption across the country and further compounded the already dire situation with the Jet A1 crisis.
An operator who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said, “The closure of the runway is seriously causing delays and with the closure, it means you have to taxi more on the runway which means you burn more fuel inside N800 per litre. All airlines are really crying.”
At the weekend, Ibom Air, one of the domestic airlines, issued a statement, notifying its passengers of possible flight delays, blaming it on fuel scarcity and the closure of the runway.
“The management of Ibom Air regrets to inform the general public and our customers in particular, that despite our best efforts, our passengers will experience flight delays this period, due to two critical factors:
1. The closure of the domestic runway (Runway 18L) at Murtala Mohammed Airport for the next three months
2. The current serious scarcity of aviation fuel
“Both factors have resulted in our operations being delayed more often than not.
“Ibom Air will continue to invest our best efforts to ensure that we minimise the impact of these factors on our flight schedule.
Also, Dana Air in a separate statement expressed regret at the current fuel crisis which it said would cause delays for future flights.
The statement on its social media handles read: “Due to the prevailing fuel scarcity in some airports around the country, we envisage slight delays in the coming days.
“While we are doing our best to mitigate the expected delays, we shall keep you informed of any changes in our schedule.”