Contrary to speculations on social media that the Nigerian airspace has been shut and foreign airlines were allegedly asked to turned back, Daily Sun can reveal that the country’s airspace has remained open despite the escalated crises in states like Lagos.
There were unsubstantiated reports that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) shut the airspace and foreign airlines were forced to land in neigbouring Africa countries like Lome and Cotonou as a result. But a reliable source within the agency refuted the reports, telling Daily Sun that any airline that chose to divert its flight to any other country did so on its own volition. The source said that despite the curfew imposed by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu after amateur videos emerged showing where soldiers were shooting at unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate, the country’s skies have remained open to international flights.
The Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) sent by NAMA for October 20, 2020 and signed by Alli Dele which was seen by Daily Sun stated that despite the curfew imposed in Lagos due to the demonstrations, adequate contingency arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of aircraft landing, taking off and overflying the Nigerian airspace. The NOTAM stated that however, movement within Lagos is limited to essential services.
When Daily Sun also reached out to the General Manager, Public Relations of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Sam Adurogboye and he refuted the speculations, clarifying that some airlines on their own took the decision to suspend their flights in view of the curfew and the situation on ground.
Daily Sun had earlier reported that on Tuesday, October 20, over five airlines cancelled flights into Lagos. Arik Air, Ibom Air, Azman Air, Africa World Airlines and Air Peace were among the airlines that cancelled some of the flights coming in and out of Lagos on Tuesday, October 20 and Wednesday, October 21.
The management of Arik said all flights for both days have been cancelled and urged passengers to reschedule at no cost, while Africa World Airlines also released a statement asking passengers not to proceed to the airport as flights into Lagos have been cancelled. “Due to the 24-hour curfew imposed in Lagos from 1600 hours on Tuesday, October 20, we have cancelled flights AW222/AW223 on Tuesday, October 200 and AW208/AW211 on Wednesday, October 21. Passengers are urged not to proceed to the airport for these flights and contact us for rebooking/refund,” the airline said.
On its official social media handle, Azman Air said: “This is to inform all our Lagos bound passengers that all flights are hereby cancelled till further notice. This is due to the directive issued by the Lagos State government to impose a 24-hour curfew starting from Tuesday, October 2020. Passengers can reschedule at no extra costs,” while Air Peace issued a flight advisory notice saying, “This is to inform the general public that due to the newly imposed curfew in Lagos and Benin, we shall not be operating flights from these two locations till further notice. Our esteemed customers whose flights are disrupted by this new development can send a mail to us for possible reschedule.” Ibom Air also confirmed to Daily Sun that flights in and out of Lagos have been cancelled.