Flight de­lays in­crease as har­mat­tan haze hits air­ports

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Mau­reen Ihua-maduenyi

The num­ber of de­layed flights has in­creased in the last one week as har­mat­tan haze con­tin­ued to re­duce vis­i­bil­ity across some air­ports in the coun­try.

The PUNCH gath­ered that both do­mes­tic and for­eign air­lines had been af­fected as the sit­u­a­tion wors­ened in the last few days.

Sources within do­mes­tic air­lines said cities in the South-south espe­cially As­aba, Warri, Port har­court, Benin and Cal­abar, were mostly af­fected.

One of the sources said air­lines had had to de­lay flights al­most on a daily ba­sis since the last week in De­cem­ber.

De­scrib­ing it as a gen­eral prob­lem, the air­line source ex­plained that early morn­ing flights out of La­gos were mostly af­fected.

The Me­dia and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager, Dana Air, Kings­ley ezenwa, said de­lays were usu­ally fre­quent at this time of the year due to poor weather con­di­tion.

“Although it has been mostly de­lays, not out­right can­cel­la­tions but you know that once a flight is de­layed, it will def­i­nitely have an ef­fect on other flights for the day,” he added.

The Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­ec­u­tive, Air Peace, Stan­ley Olisa, said the weather had been im­pact­ing more flights in the south­ern part of the coun­try than the North.

For­eign air­lines had also not been left out as Bri­tish Air­ways was re­ported to have di­verted its flights twice on Mon­day and Tues­day to Ac­cra, Ghana over poor vis­i­bil­ity at the Mur­tala Muhammed In­ter­na­tional Air­port, La­gos.

An Air France flight was also said to have been di­verted to Cotonou, Benin Repub­lic, be­fore it later re­turned to La­gos.

The new In­stru­ment Land­ing Sys­tem in­stalled in La­gos by the Nige­rian Airspace Man­age­ment Agency to aid air­craft land­ing dur­ing ad­verse weather is cur­rently not in use.

NAMA in Novem­ber said it had started the trial run of the newly in­stalled Cat­e­gory III ILS at Run­way 18 Right of the MMIA, La­gos.

The Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, had stated that the agency was re­spond­ing to the de­mands and clam­our by air­lines for bet­ter nav­i­ga­tional fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try.

he said there would be an im­prove­ment in flight op­er­a­tions in the coun­try in the com­ing weeks and months.

Mean­while the Nige­rian Air Traf­fic Con­trollers’ As­so­ci­a­tion has ex­pressed dis­plea­sure over de­vel­op­ment.

In a state­ment signed by its Pres­i­dent, Abay­omi Agoro, NATCA said the sad event was oc­ca­sioned by poor vis­i­bil­ity and haze but more wor­ry­ingly ac­cen­tu­ated by the de­graded state of nav­i­ga­tional and land­ing fa­cil­i­ties due to lack of cal­i­bra­tion.

he said the as­so­ci­a­tion was equally con­cerned about the un­told hard­ship the sit­u­a­tion had vis­ited on its mem­bers work­ing in La­gos Ter­mi­nal Ap­proach po­si­tion whose statu­tory re­spon­si­bil­ity is to en­sure a round-the-clock safety in tak­ing off and land­ing.

Agoro said, “We sin­cerely ap­pre­ci­ate govern­ment’s huge in­vest­ment in the up­grade of avi­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture in the sec­tor.

“NATCA is nev­er­the­less con­cerned about the peren­nial state of degra­da­tion of the es­sen­tial fa­cil­i­ties and work­ing tools with at­ten­dant in­creased stress and work­load which in prac­ti­cal terms trans­late to se­ri­ous safety im­pli­ca­tions for the fly­ing pub­lic.

“NATCA, there­fore, urges the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to take im­me­di­ate steps to re­store the full ser­vice­abil­ity of the nav­i­ga­tional and land­ing aids to en­sure an ef­fec­tive end to the un­called hitches re­cently ex­pe­ri­enced and pre­vent the re­oc­cur­rence of same.”

he said it was not the time to ap­por­tion blames but for all hands to be on deck to en­sure seam­less safety regime and prompt nav­i­ga­tional ser­vices.

The Gen­eral Man­ager, Pub­lic Re­la­tions, NAMA, Khalid emele, said the agency’s nav­i­ga­tional fa­cil­i­ties were op­er­at­ing op­ti­mally but await­ing flight cal­i­bra­tion in line with the Nige­rian Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity and In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion reg­u­la­tions and global best prac­tices.

he said the idea be­hind the in­stal­la­tion of CAT III ILS in strate­gic air­ports in the coun­try was borne out of the need to en­hance safety, ef­fi­ciency, ac­cess and seam­less­ness of flight op­er­a­tions in the na­tion’s airspace, espe­cially dur­ing the har­mat­tan sea­son.

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