MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos and How ILS Equipment Works at Airports

Why international airlines actually diverted Lagos flights to Ghana

* Dysfunctional Instrument Landing System (ILS) Equipment at MMIA responsible for disruptions

* Thousands of air travellers stranded in Accra

* How British Airways abandoned its Nigerian passengers in Ghana

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Contrary to the earlier extensive claim by authorities and several unwary travelling public that “poor weather conditions” informed the recent disruptions to all international flights bound for Lagos, Nigeria, and subsequent diversions to Ghana, findings have revealed that complications from the non-functional new equipment installation at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, really caused the flight interruptions and cancellations for days.

ConsumerConnect checks revealed that the British Airways and Emirates Airlines are among the carriers unable to land at the MMIA and were instead rerouted to Ghana.

The diversions are roiling travel plans for many of their passengers, according to statements e-mailed to affected passengers and reviewed by CNN.

The diversions were said to be as a result of “poor weather” in Lagos, which is Nigeria’s commercial hub, whereas the Ministry of Aviation reportedly described the cause as “inadequate equipment to check visibility.”

James Odaudu, Director of Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, said the airport is “in the process of replacing the old Category 2 Instrument Landing System (ILS) with the newly procured Category 3 system that allows for the lowest visibility landing.”

Incidentally, Instrument Landing System normally works as “a signal navigation aid that guides pilots when landing in low visibility.”

It was gathered that hitherto the airport authorities in Lagos had experienced difficulties replacing their old ILS with a new one, making it impossible for airplanes to land.

“Unfortunately, there was a malfunctioning of certain components, which, coupled with the unforeseen weather conditions, made landing at the airport difficult,” Odaudu said in the statement.

Passengers stranded at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana’s capital city, have reacted angrily, saying it would have been easier if flights had been rerouted to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

Fola Olatunji-David, a technology entrepreneur and one of the affected air passengers whose February 11 flight to Lagos was diverted, stated that British Airways had not made provisions to take them back to Nigeria after initial promises to do so.

“We landed in Accra on Tuesday night, and they kept stringing us along. They kept changing the time, Olatunji-David said.

“We will leave at 11 p.m., we will leave at 2 p.m., but we are still here,” he said of the British Airways, in an interview with CNN.

He and other passengers had been in Accra for about three days, waiting for flights back to Lagos.

The passenger related that many flights were fully booked, making it difficult to secure tickets back home.

According to him, “the airline became culpable when they left us to find our way home. There are minors on this flight, pregnant women, people who are now forced to get home on their own,” he added.

British Airways has not responded to multiple requests from CNN, seeking comment. But according to statements sent to passengers and reviewed by CNN, the airline blamed poor visibility at the Lagos Airport and promised to cover passengers’ hotel, Internet and refreshments costs.

“We regret to inform you that due to the operational constraints, we have had to cancel this flight.

“We recommend that you make your own travel arrangements to Lagos as we are unable to operate safely in the coming days,” British Airways’ statement to passengers read.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Aviation said it was trying to get the situation back to normal.

Ministry officials also approved diversion of more recent flights to Abuja, FCT.

Airlines like Qatar Airlines also applied to redirect their flights to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and got approval for it, Odaudu said.

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