Air Traffic Controllers have raised the alarm over poor navigational and landing equipment at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, which have compelled some foreign airlines to divert their aircraft to neighbouring African countries.
The controllers under the aegis of Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association regretted that the diversion of aircraft was adding to the workload of their members and called on the respective agencies to address the sordid situation before it went out of hand.
A statement by its President, Mr Yomi Agoro, mentioned British Airways and Air France among the foreign carriers that had diverted their flights out of Nigeria to Accra, Ghana and Cotonou, Benin Republic, respectively.
Agoro also stated that the diversion of the planes was due to poor visibility and haze weather condition, which the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency has consistently claimed to have upgraded in recent time.
The statement reads, “We note with displeasure the unwholesome event unfolding at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport amongst, which was the diversion of British Airways and Air France flights to Accra and Cotonou respectively.
“The sad event was occasioned by poor visibility and haze, but more worryingly accentuated by the degraded state of navigational and landing facilities due to lack of calibration.
“We are equally concerned with the untold hardship the situation has visited on our members working in Lagos Terminal Approach position whose statutory responsibility is to ensure a round the clock safety in taking off and landing.
“In as much as we sincerely appreciate government’s huge investment in the upgrade of aviation infrastructure in the sector, NATCA is nevertheless concerned about the perennial state of degradation of the essential facilities and working tools with attendant increased stress and workload, which in practical terms translate to serious safety implications for the flying public.”
Agoro however, called on relevant authorities to take immediate steps to restore the full serviceability of the navigational and landing aids at the Lagos airport to ensure an end to the “uncalled” hitches recently experienced and prevent the re-occurrence of same.
Recall that NAMA recently claimed that it had installed the Category 3 Instrument Landing System at the Lagos airport to aid seamless landing during the Harmattan period.
It was gathered that the equipment cost about N6m to procure and install at the airport.
But, despite this equipment, British Airways and Air France, among others foreign airlines had to divert their flights to Accra and Cotonou because the weather minima was below their standards.