The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on Tuesday explained why some international flights to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, were disrupted.
According to a statement from the ministry, the federal government decided to upgrade the standard navigational equipment at the MMIA, “from CAT II ILS to CAT III ILS.”
The statement said the CAT III ILS allows flights “even in zero visibility, unlike CAT II ILS where pilots can only land with a minimum of 800m visibility”.
“The CAT III ILS has been installed in Lagos and Abuja, in the first phase. Both were also calibrated. Pending are CAT III ILS for Kano, Port Harcourt, Asaba, etc
“Nigeria, for the first time in a long time, acquired a calibration plane to facilitate easy calibration of the navigational equipment and also stop the practice whereby a calibration plane is hired for $500k each time.
“The CAT III ILS in Abuja is working perfectly. But after calibration, some inaccurate readings were noticed in the CAT III ILS @ runway 18R (for international flights) at the MMA.
“Unfortunately, it was in the process of re-calibrating that the weather situation in Lagos changed for the worse, hence the disruption of international flights into Lagos. Some airlines opted to divert their flights to Kotoka airport (CAT II ILS) in Ghana, leaving innocent travelers stranded when they could have easily diverted to Abuja (CAT III ILS), where flights to Lagos are regular.”
The ministry said due to the glitch, some international airlines diverted their flights to Abuja.
It said the insinuation that perhaps the CAT III ILS equipment was never bought or never installed is “akin to calling the dog a bad name just to hang it”.
“The equipment was not only bought, but it was also installed.
“The weather phenomenon that reduced visibility at the International wing of the MMA is not unique to Nigeria. As this was happening in Nigeria, over 100 flights were being canceled within the span of one week at Heathrow in London.
“The situation at the runway 18R at the MMA is being rectified and normal flights will resume shortly.”
The country has always battled with the challenge of local flight delays and cancellations.
This, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said, is usually due to adverse weather situations.
The agency said the prevailing inclement weather is a global experience at the moment which had also warranted the cancellation of inbound international flights, noting that it is not peculiar to Nigeria.