According to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), all airports in the country have the necessary infrastructure to support nighttime operations.
According to the agency, all airports have approach and landing navigational aids as well as Satellite-Based and Performance-Based Navigation protocols that can enable a safe landing at any time of day, in contrast to assertions made by operators.
At the 26th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) recently held in Lagos, Acting Managing Director of NAMA Matthew Pwajok stated that it was inappropriate to refer to some airports in the nation as “sunrise airports” or “sunset airports.”
According to Pwajok, “all airports in Nigeria have instrument landing facilities for approach and landing, which means they operate under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) rather than Visual Flight Rules (VFR), where pilots must visually approach and land between Sunrise and Sunset.
‘Except for one or two private aerodromes, all federal and state government-owned airports managed by NAMA are equipped with Instrument Landing System (ILS),’ he said. ‘However, you cannot refer to them as sunrise or sunset airports.’ This is true even when the runway and approach lights are temporarily inoperable.
The head of NAMA claimed that the organization had invested heavily in navigational facilities more than any other facilities, and that “aside from Owerri and Calabar, where the agency is working to install Category II (CAT II) Instrument Landing systems (ILS), and Jalingo, which has no instrument landing system for the time being, practically all airports in Nigeria have at least CAT II ILS, most of which were installed brand new, so there is nothing like obsolete navigational facilities.”
The agency started implementing Category III ILS in Abuja and Lagos airports to address visibility concerns in some airports during bad weather, while those in Katsina, Kano, and Port Harcourt were still being placed and would be ready by the end of 2022.
The agency had always offered extended services to airlines “who made such requests,” he said, and would do so even in light of the high cost of diesel.
In addition, he reassured airlines that NAMA will continue to provide search and rescue services throughout the extended hours as the organization works with sister organizations, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and other crucial stakeholders. He claimed that as long as an airport was open, search and rescue would be available throughout the operational period.
The NAMA MD explained to the group that NAMA is a wholly self-funded government organization that offers air navigation services at federal, state, and private airports for a rising fee. She also mentioned that she was required to send 25% of her gross income to the federation account.
“It is uneconomical for the agency to operate beyond 12 hours everyday at a domestic airport merely for a single trip,” the agency concludes.
He reassured airline operators that NAMA has done so in the past and would continue to do so if necessary.