Lagos Airport Runway Closure: Pilots Highlight Disadvantages

FG Reopens Old Int’l Wing To Reduce Flight Disruptions

The controversial Lagos airport runway closure has drawn the attention of some pilots, who highlighted the disadvantages of the development.

BizWatch Nigeria reported that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), on Thursday, July 7, 2022, disclosed the closure of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos runway, citing innovations.

“As part of efforts aimed at improving safety and efficiency of flight operations at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has concluded arrangements to complete the installation of CAT III Airfield Ground Lighting system on Runway 18L/36R. The project, which will commence effectively on Friday, July 8, 2022, is expected to last for 90 days.

“Consequently, Runway 18L/36R will be closed to flight operations during this time. However, stakeholders are to note that there will be no disruption. All normal flight operations will be conducted through runway 18R/36L. A NOTAM (Notice to Air Men) to this effect has already been published and disseminated accordingly,” FAAN announced.

Reacting to the development, Capt Ado Sanusi, a former Managing Director of Aero Contractors and ex-MD of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, said even though he is not against the FAAN’s move to install airfield lighting, closing the runway for 24 hours consecutively for three months is not a good idea.

“The good thing about the Lagos airport is that it has two runways and both will not be closed at the same time. So, one is going to be in use while the other will be closed. The only negative thing is that the airlines will have to burn more fuel because there’s an increase in taxing time and since it’s one runway, traffic will be a little bit more and so there will be delays in the air.

“But the entire problem is not even that, the airport runway lighting is something that should have been done, they resurfaced that runway, so it’s something they should have done then at that time,” he stated.

Like Sanusi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of West Link Aviation, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia said “it is exciting to hear that the lights are coming on finally, but I’m afraid that closing it (runway) completely will create real traffic chaos. 

The current curfew on that runway should not be tampered with for obvious reasons. Night construction is possible and will maintain the status quo and cause less or no effect to the current traffic flow and airlines’ operations.

“Closing it (runway) completely will create heavy arrival and departure aerial traffic and ground traffic. Air Traffic Controllers will be stacking aircraft overhead Lagos overwhelmingly with the epileptic radar.

“Even if the radar was fully functional, when all the aircraft arrive, the air traffic control officers can do little or nothing besides stacking them overhead (the airport). Aircraft will have to keep holding (in the air) and take turns to land.

“I see so many flight diversions and possible declarations of emergency. This is also the rainy season, the wrong time to do this in my opinion. I am looking at this as a pilot who knows the airspace for decades.”

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