Despite claim by the Federal Government that flights have fully resumed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, some international flights have not been able to operate, it was learnt.
For instance, Emirates Airlines has suspended flights to the airport following the persistent hazy weather condition. Some of its scheduled flights disrupted by the hazy weather conditions were the EK781/EK782: Dubai – Lagos – Dubai and EK783/EK784: Dubai – Lagos – Dubai.
The airline, in a notice posted on its website, stated that the affected passengers in Dubai could opt to travel to Abuja as an alternate route or return to their journey start point if holding valid return tickets.
The airline said it is “monitoring the situation closely and will update our customers as the situation develops” but confirmed in a message to our correspondent that “our flights aren’t operating from and to Lagos due to the weather.”
Daily Trust reports that over 2,000 passengers of different airlines had their travel plans disrupted following the weather which has reduced visibility to below 800 metres minima.
The Federal Government had in 2019 installed the Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) which will enable aircraft to take off and land at zero visibility and also went ahead to procure the calibration plane worth $8.6m, but the calibration is yet to be completed.
Sources said yesterday that weather had improved “tremendously” and operations resumed, but there are indications that the suspension of flights to Lagos by Emirates might not be unconnected with the company’s policy. They might be waiting until the ILS category 3 is fully installed.
British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Egypt Air, among other foreign airlines were diverting flights to Accra, Ghana, Dakar Senegal and other West African countries, but they have resumed normal operations in Lagos.
British Airways, few days ago, told our correspondent that over 600 of its passengers were affected.
Checks on flights at the airport yesterday indicated that though many international flights which come in the evening were still on time.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, at the weekend, confirmed that the situation had been reversed “as both international and domestic flight operations have resumed at the airport.”
In a statement by his spokesperson, James Odaudu, the minister reiterated that the diversions and cancellations were due to “highly inclement weather conditions” which he said “are not peculiar to Lagos or Nigeria, but a global phenomenon.”
He said: “We also wish to re-establish the fact that the weather conditions in Lagos, and indeed every airport worldwide, is not something that is noticed at the point of landing, as pilots are regularly updated during the course of the flights and therefore in a position to decide on the most appropriate airport to divert to.
President of Aviation Roundtable, Elder Gbenga Olowo, tasked the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Federal Airports Authority or Nigeria (FAAN) to be more alive to their responsibilities.
He said: “Prioritising Lagos Airport in particular (the most profitable of all the airports) remain paramount. The most irritating to the ears is that the calibration aircraft purchased cannot calibrate the Lagos ILS (Instrument Landing system).”