On Friday 8th June, 2012, there was a blackout on the runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. This halted flights in and out of the city and put the country in an embarrassing situation. The blackout, which lasted for about three hours stalled the landing and taking off of planes, thereby putting passengers at the airport into confusion.
It also had serious implications for planes which were already en route Abuja. Some international planes that were supposed to land at the airport in Abuja on Friday were re-routed to Lagos and Port Harcourt. Lufthansa, British Airways, and Air France flights had to land in Lagos where passengers were offered accommodation, while an Arik Flight coming from Port Harcourt was forced to return to Port Harcourt. Also, some inbound flights were diverted to land in other airports like Malabo and Equatorial Guinea.
The situation also forced international and local airlines to cancel their scheduled flights. Departing passengers who had been checked in were later dispersed and asked to come back on Saturday. Lufthansa and some domestic airlines had to disperse their passengers who had already boarded the planes.
As Nigerians are still grappling with the embarrassment and inconveniences caused by the blackout, the Ministry of Aviation has explained the reason behind it. According to the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi, the black out was caused by faulty runway lights which were out of order and had to be repaired.
He said the runway blackout happened due to some routine maintenance work by a construction firm and it was during the course of the maintenance work that some of the runway lights were tampered with. He however added that the defect on the runway lighting system was corrected on Saturday.
These blackouts at Nigerian Airports is one too many. It is the third time this year that a blackout will be recorded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. At the Muritala Mohammed Airport, Lagos. Two blackouts have already been recorded this year. The last one which occurred in May trapped passengers and workers inside the elevators for up to 45 minutes.
This news coming at a time when Nigerians are still in shock over the plane crash which claimed over 150 lives in Lagos last Sunday has cut a deeper dent in the people’s relationship with the aviation sector.
News Source: Punch