by Wale Odunsi
Some Lagos bound foreign flights were on Wednesday diverted to Ghana Airport due to weather condition and poor instrument landing systems (ILS) at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA).
Affected flights included British Airways (BA) from London, Delta Airlines from the USA and Emirates Airline from Dubai.
One of the passengers in the BA aircraft, Mr. Olayiwola Zaid, told PRNigeria that the reason their flight was diverted to Ghana was two-pronged.
He pointed out that while some airlines touched down at Lagos airport successfully, their Boeing 747-400 aircraft from London could not land at MMIA, owing to the size of the aircraft and absence of good lighting equipment.
Zaid, a UK-based business intelligence analyst, however, said all of them (the passengers) onboard the BA075 flight were calm amid the frightening incident.
He recalled that they all maintained order and refused to quarrel or challenge the aircraft’s crew when their flight was diverted to Accra.
Another passenger. Dr. Tayo Olusola, attributed their flight diversion to bad weather.
These developments are greatly regretted, we wish to let the public know that the authorities at the Airport 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.— Federal Ministry of Aviation, Nigeria (@fmaviationng) February 13, 2020
He said: “It is not only British Airways that is affected but the Delta Airline, as well as Emirate Airline, were also diverted to Ghana.
“In our own case, we departed London Heathrow Airport at about 9:50am (UK time) and expected to land at Lagos Airport by 5:25pm (local time) when we were diverted.”
He, however, lamented why an international airport like MMIA will lack necessary navigation facilities and clearance equipment for aircraft.
Olusola, a scientist, said: “It was not only our British Airways plane that was diverted but included Delta and Emirate airlines.
“So, it’s not about the issue of the size of the plane. But it has to do with the ‘dysfunctional’ state of some modern landing facilities and equipment at the Lagos Airport.
“It beats my imagination that a Nigerian airport cannot clear aircraft to land just because of harmattan, whereas countries with hazardous weather conditions like snow still clear aircraft for landing at their airports.
“This shows how corruption has eaten deep into various sectors of our economy, and also stunted even the development of critical facilities at our ‘acclaimed’ international airports.”
Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, the spokesperson for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), explained that the flights were not diverted due to lack of navigation and landing equipment at MMIA, but poor weather condition in Lagos.
The BA075 crew and that of other airlines while regretting the ugly incident, promised to convey the passengers safely to Nigeria on Wednesday.