Foreign airlines on Tuesday diverted their flights from Lagos to the neighboring Ghana, no thanks to poor weather condition and poor instrument landing systems (ILS) at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA).
A news wire service PRNigeria reports that the that the foreign flights diverted included those of the British Airways (BA) from London, Delta Airlines from USA and Emirates Airline from Dubai.
According to PRNigeria, one of the passengers in the BA aircraft, Mr. Olayiwola Zaid, which spoke to its correspondent, said the reason why their flight was suddenly diverted to Ghana was due to the absence of modern lighting equipment to clear the aircraft for landing.
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 said they all maintained order and refused to quarrel or challenge the aircraft’s crew when their flight was diverted to Accra.
But another passenger. Dr. Tayo Olusola, the newswire further reported, attributed their flight diversion to bad weather.
“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 said.
He, however, expressed surprise as to why an international airport like MMIA will lack necessary navigation facilities and clearance equipment for aircraft.
“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.”
Speaking to PRNigeria on the incident, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, the spokesperson for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), said the flights were not diverted to Ghana over lack of basic navigation and landing equipment at MMIA, but due to poor weather condition in Lagos after the aircrafts had arrived the country.
The BA075 crew and that of other airlines while regretting the ugly incident, promised to convey the passengers safely to Nigeria on Wednesday (today).