The federal government has reacted to the inability of some flights to land or take off from Murtala Muhammed international airport in Lagos.
Minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, attributed the challenges to the on going efforts of the federal government to improve visibility at the country’s busiest airport.
He said diverting flights to Ghana was entirely the volition of the airlines as such could have been diverted to Abuja.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Sirika said the federal government had procured equipment that allows for the lowest visibility landing but the malfunctioning of some components delayed the installation.
He also reiterated the commitment of Nigerian authorities to the safety of passengers and also assured them that normalcy would soon be restored at the airports.
“The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has noted, with great concern, the experiences of air travellers 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,” the statement read.
“While these developments are greatly regretted, we wish to let the public know that the authorities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos were 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. 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.
“We wish to assure 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.”
On the diversion of incoming international flights to neighbouring countries, he said: “We wish to reiterate that the decisions 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.
“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.”