Hard times are here for air travelers as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) alerted of imminent flight delays or outright cancellations between now and March next year.
According to the NCAA, the development is due to harsh weather associated with harmattan. The body had recently issued a weather alert to all pilots of hazards associated with harmattan dust haze in flight operations at this period of the year.
The regulatory body noted that the warning was important because of the obvious threat harmattan posed to aircraft, particularly in areas of challenging terrains due to low visibility. NCAA added that the alert was in line with the seasonal rain prediction issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) on the cessation of rainy season in 2014.
“The Harmattan is a dry and dusty wind that blows southwards from the Sahara across the country between the end of November to March, the following year,” a statement by the General Manager, Public Affairs in the NCAA, Fan Ndubuoke said.
“On its passage over the desert, it picks up large amount of fine dust particles (0.5 to 10 micrometers) which are transported hundreds of kilometres over the south. The effect of the dust and sand stirred by the wind is known as Harmattan Dust Haze. In addition, the consequence of the harmattan is a heavy fog hence air – to – ground visibility is considerably reduced.
“Aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minima and in severe conditions; dust haze can blot out runways, the markers and airfield lightings over wide areas. This makes visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.
“Resultantly, where visibility falls below the prescribed weather minima, flight operations are likely to be delayed, diverted or outrightly cancelled.
“Therefore, all Pilots shall obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the airports. Pilots are similarly advised to exercise maximum restraint when strong surface wind, fog or harmattan haze is observed or forecast. All concerned are required to ensure compliance with this circular,” the statement read.