Hundreds of Lagos-bound passengers are said to be stranded in Accra, Ghana, Dakar, Senegal and Cotonou, Benin Republic as poor visibility continued at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
It was gathered that a Lagos-bound Delta Airlines was diverted to Dakar, Senegal and eventually had to return to Atlanta, USA on Wednesday as the weather in Lagos did not improve.
Apart from those stranded outside Nigeria, many domestic and international flights were cancelled in Lagos on Wednesday as inclement weather prevailed.
While domestic airlines alternated between delays and outright cancellations, foreign airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Delta Airlines, British Airways, Emirates and Qatar rescheduled their Wednesday flights.
Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, while apologising to the affected passengers, said those flights that were diverted to other countries should have been rerouted to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The minister in a statement signed by James Odaudu, the director, public affairs, ministry of aviation, said Abuja airport was shorter or equidistant from Lagos to the foreign airports to which some of the flights had been diverted.
In recognition of Abuja as an alternate airport, Qatar Airlines had applied to divert its flights to Abuja, and had been granted immediate approval.
Sirika said, “While these developments are greatly regretted, we wish to let the public know that the authorities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos are in the process of replacing the old category ll Instrument landing systems with the newly procured category lll system that allows for the lowest visibility landing.
“Unfortunately, there was a malfunctioning of certain components, which, coupled with the unforeseen weather conditions, made landing at the airport difficult.”
He stated that the procurement of the category lll Instrument landing system was in pursuance of the desire of the federal government to ensure the safety of air passengers by making sure that airplanes could land with almost zero visibility.
The minister said efforts were on to return the system to full working condition, adding that normalcy of operations would be re-established in due course.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority also appealed for passengers’ understanding over the prevailing situation.
According to the NCAA, the inclement weather is a global experience at the moment and has warranted cancellation of in-bound international flights alike, adding that it is not peculiar to Nigeria.