Agencies warn of hazardous weather as airlines cancel flights
THE Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have warned pilots and airline operators against hazardous weather during the yuletide and beyond and mandated them to get adequate departure, en route and destination weather information from NIMET prior to flight operations.
In a circular issued to airlines and pilots, the Director General of NCAA, Capt Muhtar Usman said that “NIMET had forecast the occurrence of moderate to severe outbreaks of dust in the country during this harmattan period: November 2015 to March 2016.”
He noted that severe outbreaks of dusts could reduce atmospheric visibility significantly and thus impact negatively on flight operations.
Usman however cautioned them to exercise maximum restraint when adverse weather is observed or forecast by NIMET.
He equally asked them to ensure that flight operations are scheduled with adequate weather information from NIMET to minimise delay or cancellation of flight operations.
It would be recalled that harmattan haze has seriously affected flight operations in the past few week. This has left hundreds of passengers stranded in different airports across the country.
Consequently, airlines have cancelled flights services following poor visibility for aircraft crew.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has also directed that airlines and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) should decline clearance for pilots if weather minima or visibility is less than 800 meters.
The aviation regulatory body said this was necessary as it tended to blur visibility and sometimes gives rise to low level wind shear that may hamper air safety.
It said that the effect of the harmattan is comparable to that of heavy fog, which tends to reduce air-to-ground visibility considerably, adding that aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minima and in severe conditions, dust haze could blot out runways, markers and airfield lightings over wide areas making visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.
Mostly affected are passengers from Sokoto, Maiduguri, Kano, Ilorin, Kaduna, Calabar, Owerri, Enugu, Uyo where harmattan haze is said to be worse.
A top official of Arik Air who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said his airline had cancelled flights to six destinations including Sokoto and Calabar due to weather phenomenon.
Aero Contractors equally cancelled some flight due to the problem. Other carriers are taking precautionary measures.
The source said it is the standard operating practice for carriers to suspend, delay or cancel flights when safety and security is jeopardize.
A passenger who called from Abuja lamented the horrible situation they had been subjected by airlines, accusing them of insensitivity to their plight.
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