The British Airways’ (BA) alleged unauthorized flight diversion from Lagos to Ghana has caused a rift between the carrier and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The flight diversion has led to accusations and counter-accusations between the duo over landing condition (safety) of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
The Lagos bound flight was diverted to Kotoko International Airport in Accra. According to BA, the decision was prompted by a temporary closure of the runway at Lagos airport.
“We apologised to our customers for the overnight delay to their travel plans after a diversion, caused by a temporary closure of the runway at Lagos airport.
“We looked after our customers and provided them with accommodation and refreshments until their flight departed the next day. The safety and welfare of our customers and crew is always our priority,” BA said.
The excuse given by British Airways was countered by FAAN. The aviation authority insisted that the Murtala Muhammed International Airport wasn’t closed at any time, as other planes landed as scheduled.
It was also reported that British Airways failed to follow protocol for such diversion.
General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, said that before taking such action, airline companies are issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).
But British Airways reportedly didn’t follow the standard practice as FAAN didn’t issue NOTAM to any airways.
“Apart from the Port Harcourt International Airport, which was recently closed briefly due to an incident, no other airport has been closed.
“There is no way we can just close the runway of an airport without notice to anyone.”
It was reported that the prevailing weather conditions in Lagos of 1,500 metres was within the approved minimum state weather conditions for Performance-Based Navigation approach and landing on Runway 18 Right as well as Instrument Landing System approach and landing on Runway 18 Left at 400 metres, this is according to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.
Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) said that the British Airways landing requirement was higher than the requirement, so such diversion shouldn’t have been taken, as requirement for approach and landing on runway 18 Right using PBN is 1800m as against the prevailing visibility of 1500m.
“It should also be noted that the BA, despite the diversion, has been operating into Lagos daily using the ILS CATII on Runway 18 Left with the same prevailing weather conditions. Therefore, these diversions are avoidable based on existing facilities,” NAMA said.