The recent cloudy and hazy harmattan weather has led to huge air flight cancellations and delayed among airlines in the country.
This is as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has called on all air travellers within the country to exercise restraint during the season marred by poor weather condition, which had in recent time hampered their travel plans.
So far, flights to major parts of the northern state, especially to Kaduna, Sokoto, Dutse and Bauchi, have either been delayed or outrightly cancelled due to bad weather conditions caused by poor navigational equipment across the country.
At the Lagos Airport, airlines to Kaduna and Ilorin could not fly as advertised as the weather conditions at those airports remain poor.
The inability of the airlines to operate as scheduled, led to a massive disruption of passengers’ plans while some of them protested their delays and cancellations at the airports.
One of the airline operators who didn’t want to be named in an interview with our correspondent described the various navigational aids at the nation’s airports as poor and substandard.
The operator specifically said that his airline, for instance, had only been able to carry out just 35 percent of flights in the past one week due to poor navigational equipment and not the "bad weather" as claimed in some quarters.
He said: “While other countries with advanced aviation can operate under zero visibility, airlines in the Nigeria are cancelling flights as a result of harmattan haze. Harmattan haze should not be blamed for flight delays, but the inability to get accurate facilities to land or allow airplanes to take off from Nigerian airports due to poor equipment.
“Navigational facilities at most of the airports are not working. Most of them are not working. It is very shameful that we close airports over "2000 weather minimums" whereas in Europe and other places, aircraft take-off in almost visibility conditions. The agencies are not giving us the services required or paid for by airlines.”
However, NCAA has warned passengers to exercise restraints when their flights are being cancelled or delayed by airlines.
The agency said the advice was important due to the spate of delays and cancellations occasioned by inclement weather en route most of the nation’s airports.
A statement by the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye noted that during the week, most parts of the country witnessed adverse weather conditions, which prevented most scheduled and non-scheduled flights from providing services.
The statement declared that the agency had previously had issued a Weather Alert Circular to all pilots and airline operators on the impending adverse weather.
The circular forewarned all operators on the inherent danger associated with harmattan dust haze as regards flight operations at this time of the year.
The agency insisted that the prevailing weather condition was likely to herald a long and severe dust haze in the months ahead, adding that during this period, air- to - ground visibility may be considerably reduced due to the dust haze.
The statement added: “In addition, aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minima due to the severe conditions. Dust haze can blot runways, the markings and airfield lightings over wide areas. These make visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.
“Under these kinds of adverse conditions air travel is bound to suffer delays and cancellations. Passengers are therefore advised to exercise restraint when their travels suffer these fates. Pilots are merely observing what is contained in the departure, en route and destination weather which might sometimes necessitate outright cancellation.”
Adurogboye explained that when adverse weather condition happened, the airline and the pilots were strictly adhering to the Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs).
The statement, however, called on operating airlines to share as much information as possible with passengers on the progress of their respective flights in line with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) 2015 Part 19.