Aminat Isah, Abuja
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that the diversion of incoming international flights to neighbouring countries, is purely the decisions of the airlines which the government has no control over.
The disclosed this in a statement issued by his Director, Public Affairs, James Odaudu, following 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.
He however said 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.
According to the Minister, ” 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,”
The Minister who expressed concerns over the recent development said “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.
The statement reads: 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.”
He assured 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.
“We wish to use this medium to assure the general public that the comfort, safety and security of the flying populace remains the central focus of this administration and that no effort would be spared in ensuring this”, he added.
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