The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and British Airways have disagreed over the carrier’s diversion of its London-Lagos flight to Accra, Ghana, earlier in the week.
British Airways had on Monday diverted its Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos-bound flight to Kotoko International Airport, Accra.
While many aviation stakeholders attributed the diversion to poor visibility at the MMIA Lagos, British Airways, in an e-mailed response to our correspondent’s enquiry, said it was due to a temporary closure of the Lagos airport runway.
The e-mail read in part, “We apologised to our customers for the overnight delay to their travel plans after a diversion, caused by a temporary closure of the runway at Lagos airport.
“We looked after our customers and provided them with accommodation and refreshments until their flight departed the next day. The safety and welfare of our customers and crew is always our priority.”
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria- Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, however, said the Lagos airport runway was never closed at any time recently.
Yakubu said the standard practice in aviation was to issue a Notice to Airmen before such action could be taken.
She said the agency did not issue a NOTAM to any airline on runway closure.
She added, “Apart from the Port Harcourt International Airport, which was recently closed briefly due to an incident, no other airport has been closed.
“There is no way we can just close the runway of an airport without notice to anyone.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency said the prevailing weather conditions in Lagos of 1,500 metres were within the approved minimum state weather conditions for Performance-Based Navigation approach and landing on Runway 18 Right as well as Instrument Landing System approach and landing on Runway 18 Left at 400 metres.
According to the agency, the British Airways’ requirement for approach and landing on runway 18 Right using PBN is 1800m as against the prevailing visibility of 1500m.
In a statement signed by its General Manager, Public Relations- Khalid Emele, NAMA said all other foreign operators including Emirates, Delta, KLM and Lufthansa landed on the same runway in similar weather conditions.
“It should also be noted that the BA, despite the diversion, has been operating into Lagos daily using the ILS CATII on Runway 18 Left with the same prevailing weather conditions. Therefore, these diversions are avoidable based on existing facilities,” the agency said.
It added that arrangements had been concluded for the commencement of flight calibration of navigational facilities nationwide from January 16, to enhance seamless flight operations, especially during the harmattan season.