The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says malfunctioning of Instrument Landing System (ILS), which made landing difficult, was responsible for recent flights diversion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
Sirika made this known in Lagos on Thursday in a statement by his Director of Public Affairs, Mr James Dauda.
“We wish to let the public know that the authorities at MMIA were in the process of replacing the old Category II ILS with the newly procured Category III System that allows for the lowest visibility landing.
“Unfortunately, there was a malfunctioning of the ILS coupled with the unforeseen weather conditions, which made landing at the airport difficult.
“The procurement of the Category III 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.
Sirika noted with great concern, the experiences of air travellers to and from the MMIA regarding flight diversions and in many cases, outright cancellations, which had been occasioned by highly inclement weather conditions.
On diversion of incoming international flights to neighbouring countries, he reiterated that the decisions were purely those of the airlines which the ministry have no control over.
Sirika said those flights could have been re-routed to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, which was shorter or equidistant from Lagos to the foreign airports to which some of the flights have been diverted.
The minister noted that in recognition of Abuja as an alternate airport, Qatar Airlines had applied to divert its flights to NAIA to which approval was granted immediately.
He assured the general public that the comfort, safety and security of the flying populace remained the central focus of the administration.
The minister added that no effort would be spared in ensuring this.