Control Tower that guides the aircraft
In the last few months, bad weather seems to have dealt airlines in Nigeria a severe blow as they continue to count losses.
Our reporter learnt that an estimated N4billion has been lost to these airlines by the way of cancellation, delays, diversions, refunds which have been added to the usual issues that have bedevilled operations.
Owing to this discovery, Coordinator, Centre for Aviation Research and Safety, CAR-S, Engr. Sheri Kyari, has called for provision of improved navigational aids by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, at least four major airports across the country, this he said will increase visibility.
Bad weather became very severe in December 2014 till mid-January and led to diversions, delays and cancellations of several flights, especially in the South-South and the Northern routes with the attendant result of huge revenue losses to the operators.
Some of the airports majorly affected by the weather were, Asaba, Warri, Benin, Ilorin, Ibadan, Yola, Lagos, Abuja and Uyo while flights to Kaduna and Kano were mildly disrupted.
Indeed, investigations by our correspondent revealed that three days in the first week of January alone, airlines lost N2 billion to cancellation of flights while another N1 billion was lost in the past two weeks.
This is not to talk of those airlines that are still paying refunds for services not rendered still or those that have had their Air Operators Certificate (AOC) Suspended because of ill passenger treatment.
Our reporter gathered that in all, the airlines lost over N4 billion to the inclement weather in the past month with at least 170 flights cancelled within the period while an average ticket sold for about N20,000 per passenger for domestic flights.
Most of the airlines operate Boeing 737 aircraft with about 130 sitting capacities for both business and economy classes.
An airline operator, during a chat with our correspondent and who pleaded not to be identified in print, identified ineffective navigational equipment in most airports as some of the challenges faced by operators in the industry.
The source confirmed that the airlines had made representations to the government in the past on the need to improve the facilities to allow aircraft take off and land even in extreme weather conditions without success, adding that the disunity in the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, the umbrella body of indigenous airlines had not made the airlines to speak in one voice.
He said, “It is unfortunate that we have been sucking all the losses on our own without any form of compensation from the government. It is obvious that the navigational equipment we have on ground are not of high standards because Europe and America have more severe weather than our and has not led to delay and cancellation of their flights.”
The Coordinator, Centre for Aviation Research and Safety, CAR-S, Engr. Sheri Kyari, called for provision of improved navigational aids by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, at least four major airports across the country.
Kyari explained that onboard facilities in most of the modern airplanes can make them operate safely even in zero weather visibility, but noted that for this to work, ground based navigational facilities must interline with onboard facilities.
He called for the installation of Category One –Two facilities at most of the airports to improve the flying experience of the people, stressing that such experiment could begin with the Abuja Airport, which currently has some faciliy challenges.
Another aviation analyst, Engr. Victory Oke, noted that despite the relatively conducive weather of Nigeria compared to other countries such as Mauritania, Somalia and Japan among others, there has been a marked increase in the cases of recorded flight delay, diversion and cancellation, which in most cases, are attributed to poor weather conditions in Nigeria.
Oke added that some aircraft accidents in the country had been attributed to inclement weather, but its occurrence, though resulting to very devastating losses, has been on a low rate compared to other defects, with highest mishaps recorded between 2003 and 2006.