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Delays and cancelation regime of local interstate flights which started since last week peaked on Thursday as number of stranded air travelers increased in mainly Lagos, Abuja and Kano airports.
Apart from Lagos-Abuja-Lagos flights, which operated seamlessly, flights on many other routes including Lagos-Owerri, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Uyo and Kano were cancelled due to the weather situation.
Several passengers who had long booked Air Peace Airline from Lagos to Enugu, Calabar, Uyo and Benin flights were all cancelled, while many of the passengers heading to the eastern part of the country were taken to Owerri and Port Harcourt where the weather was said to be a bit manageable.
“What we did when the situation became critical was to take some of our passengers to the airports that were open and close to their destinations, and bring back the aircraft empty. It was a sacrifice we had to make to reduce the backlog of passengers,” the Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Chris Iwarah, said.
According to him, the harmattan haze challenge was mostly at the destinations and not from Lagos end, adding that Abuja and Owerri were affected in the morning but became clearer later in the day.
In Med-View Airline, the Chief Operating Officer, Lookman Animashaun, said though there were no cancellations, the airline, however, had to delay many of its flights for hours.
According to him, “Some were seriously delayed. This is the time for hazy weather and there is nothing anybody can do. For safety reasons, airlines will not compromise, so we either delay our flights or cancel them altogether. All airlines have their minima and most pilots will not compromise their safety,” he stated.
Business Hilights recalls that NiMet’s Weather Alert on Wednesday and Thursday in Abuja stated that the prevailing hazy weather would lead to flight delays and cancellations and urged travellers to always show understanding with the airlines.
It also advised road users to avoid excessive speeding, especially during the early morning period when horizontal visibility would be most impaired.
The federal agency averred that “The expected reduction in visibility due to harmattan dust haze will cause cancellation and delay of flights; this is for the safety of air travellers. Thick dust (visibility less than 1000m) is observed over Kano, Potiskum, Gombe, Nguru, Bida, Enugu, Asaba, Uyo, Jos, Minna, Ibadan, Lagos, and Port Harcourt.”
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