Bad weather grounds domestic flights…leaving hundreds of passengers stranded

Bad weather has forced some domestic airlines to ground flights, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

On Wednesday morning, Ghanaians woke up to poor weather conditions caused by an intensified Harmattan leading to poor visibility. The situation has made it challenging for aircrafts to take-off and land, with Accra, Tamale and Wa Airports being the worst hit.

The poor weather continued to Thursday, with the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) urging the public to observe personal caution. It said the dry and hazy conditions being experienced across the country are expected to continue into March 2020.

Typically, the Harmattan – a dry and dusty wind that engulfs West Africa from late November until March – tends to intensify during the months of January and February.

The development has led to slow operations, especially, among domestic flights – leading to long passenger queues at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). Some airlines also halted bookings to some regions until clear weather conditions can be assured by the GCAA.

“We are hoping that things will improve in the coming days, but if they don’t it will lead to diversion and cancellations of some flights,” Director General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Simon Allotey, told the B&FT when he was contacted about the development.

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“Things are likely to get worse in February to March, and we have alerted the public on our website. We are counting on our meteo division to update us on the situation; but, for now, things are normal,” he added.

Apart from the conditions in Accra, some areas the Harmattan has affected are Kumasi, Tamale and Wa Airports, which are in the Northern Sector of the Accra Flight Information Region (FIR). It also affected regional flights such as to Lagos, Nigeria, one of the busiest routes from the KIA.

GCAA has advised airlines and operators to strictly comply with its Directives and the Standards and Recommended Practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) pertaining to reduced visibility conditions.

The Regulator assures the general public of its commitment to maintaining the highest standards of aviation safety in the country. As of last Wednesday at the Tamale Airport, a fight scheduled to take off at 11:00am was delayed by an hour, with others cancelled.

Some affected passengers at the Tamale Airport who spoke to the B&FT expressed worry over the situation, noting that authorities should have informed travellers ahead of time about the situation.

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