By Okechukwu Nnodim
March 24, 2010 12:07AM
Airlines in our country on Tuesday commenced flight operations by airlifting passengers from various airports to their respective destinations. This came after about 24 hours of complete flight cancellations by airlines, following the 'hazardous weather conditions' experienced in the country.

Though there were flight delays especially to northern states, as a result of the weather situation, the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, witnessed series of aircraft take-offs and landings.

'Passengers can now fly based on instructions from the control tower, and this is because the weather, though fair, has not cleared completely,' said an officer with Aero Contractors, who asked to remain anonymous. The source disclosed that the bad weather affected carriers in the country negatively, stressing that during yesterday's severe hazy weather, some passengers demanded the refund of their fares 'without considering the airline.'

'Airlines lost millions to that incident yesterday, but some passengers refused to understand that it was not the fault of airlines,' the source said.

Meanwhile, the sales of tickets by ticketing officers at the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2 (MMA2) and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) went on as usual, and passengers embarked on their flights with various aircrafts departing the airports.

Onn Monday, we reported that hundreds of passengers were stranded at different airports in our country, following the fog that impaired visibility across our nation's airspace.

Earlier, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), while reacting to the situation, directed airlines and their flight crews to enlighten travellers about the situation, adding that the cancellation of flights was for the good of the passengers, as safety is the highest priority.

Harold Demuren, director general of the aviation authority, implored pilots to carry out intensive pre-flight briefings for weather conditions before embarking on any flight.

According to Mr. Demuren, Nigeria experiences regular harmattan that reduces the visibility of pilots during flight operations.

'Pilots should carefully review the procedures for their operations whenever a forecast shows that reduced visibility or adverse weather conditions might exist for any portion of the flight,' he said.

'Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will close airports to arrivals and departures when the runway visual range is measured at less than 800 metres, and pilots must be prepared to postpone flights or divert to alternate airports in the circumstances.'