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Nigerian Airlines lose 50% flight operations, revenue to local harmattan haze

Lagos Local Airport

Lagos(The Guardian) Local airlines have lost about 50 percent of flight operations due to poor visibility occasioned by the seasonal harmattan haze.Though air travel is usually at its peak during Yuletide, operators couldn’t optimise most of their recent investments as a result of flight delays and cancellations.
In the last three weeks, delays and outright termination, combined with acute fuel shortage, have put pressure on road transport, pushing up fares by as much as 300 percent.

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The year-round recovery effort of the operators appears set for another tumble, further lowering airlines’ chances of survival. Besides the current hardship faced by the air travelling public, revenue accruing to regulators and government will also drop by at least 50 percent.Experts meanwhile have stressed that the huge inconvenience and loss could be avoided if airports in the country get adequate investment and upgrade of navigational equipment.

The apex regulatory body urged passengers to exercise restraint, saying: “Pilots are merely observing what is contained in the departure, en route and destination weather, which might sometimes necessitate outright cancellation.”A chief operating officer of one of the airlines said that for every cancelled flight, the company loses between N5 million and N12 million, depending on the size and type of the aircraft involved.He appealed to the authorities to upgrade the Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) at airports to Category 2 ILS, like in Lagos and Abuja airports.

The Secretary-General of the think-tank, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd.), noted that about 10 airports were recently installed with Category 2 ILS, to help aircraft land even at zero visibility and prevent haze-induced flight disruption.He, however, asked: “What is the serviceability status of these navigation aids that are expected to be calibrated every six months? Again, don’t you think that the major airports in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt are due for Category 3 ILS?”

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He added: “NCAA should drive the process of safety services implementation for all operators and not the other way or the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in this case.”

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