The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has reacted to the diversion and outright cancellation of flights at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
A statement by the Director of Public Affairs, James Odaudu, on Thursday said the minister noted with great concern the experiences of air travellers to and from the airport Lagos, as a result of highly inclement weather conditions.
Sirika, however, gave the assurance that authorities at the airport 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.
He, however, regretted that 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.
“We wish to assure 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,” the minister said.
On the diversion of incoming international flights to neighbouring countries, he stated that the decisions were purely those of the airlines which the government has no control over.
According to Sirika, such 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.
He disclosed that in recognition of Abuja as an alternate airport, Qatar airlines has applied to divert its flights there and the request was immediately approved.
“It is left to be seen why some others decided to divert to another country,” the minister wondered.
He added, “We wish to use this medium to assure the general public that the comfort, safety and, security of the flying populace remain the central focus of this administration and that no effort would be spared in ensuring this.”