Harmattan disrupts flights

BY: Charles Andoh & Porcia Oforiwaa Ofori
Some stranded passengers.
Some stranded passengers.

Poor visibility posed by the severe harmattan weather in the country on Wednesday disrupted local and international flights from Accra and elsewhere.

All passengers, who were scheduled to travel either outside or within Ghana, became stranded at the Departure Terminal of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

Those who could not wait for the weather to clear had to leave for their various homes, with disappointment written on their faces.

Some people who were anxiously waiting for their loved ones at the Arrival Hall of the airport were asked to wait a little while, as most flights had been redirected to land in neighbouring countries such as Nigeria, Togo and Cote d'Ivoire due to poor visibility at the KIA.

A Delta Airlines flight which was scheduled to arrive in Accra yesterday morning from the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York was, for instance, redirected to Lagos in Nigeria.


The Delta flight, which was originally scheduled to depart from Accra at 10 a.m., was rescheduled twice to 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. and later to 6 p.m. today, but as of the time of going to press there was no word on the flight’s departure.

Flight cancellation

When the Daily Graphic team visited the offices of some of the airlines at the KIA in Accra yesterday, it was observed that many local flights had been cancelled due to the bad weather.

Even though some attendants were optimistic that the fog in the atmosphere would be cleared within a day or two, they could not stick their necks out to state when flights would be in full operation.

At the ticketing sections of African World Airlines (AWA) and Starbow, some sales executives who spoke on condition of anonymity said all local flights had been cancelled due to the bad weather condition.

“Due to the poor weather condition, flights have been cancelled until tomorrow when we are sure we will have a good weather.

“Passengers have been told to either hold on till the next day or retrieve their money if they cannot wait,” one of the sources told the Daily Graphic.

A passenger, Mr Peter Opoku, who could not hide his frustration, told the Daily Graphic that his flight had been cancelled several times and he did not understand why the civil aviation authorities could not do anything about the situation but continued to give the same excuses every year.

“I was supposed to fly on WB 221 from Accra to Kigali, but my flight has been cancelled several times and l can’t understand why the authorities are failing to address the situation ahead of time,” he said.

Departure hall

About 3 p.m. when the Daily Graphic visited the Departure Hall of the KIA, some passengers were trooping in their numbers to wait for some international flights, including Egypt Air, Emirates, Arik Air and Kenyan Airways.

It was also observed that people were being checked in as they prepared for the evening flights, even though the weather was still not clear.

Assurance

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Director General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Mr Simon Allotey, said the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMA) had assured the authority that the weather was now clear and so flights could operate.

According to him, as of yesterday morning no airline could land, partly because the weather was about 500 metres misty in the atmosphere and it was not advisable for the planes to fly.

Local airlines directed

Mr Allotey said the GCAA had directed all local airlines in Accra and Kumasi to work late at night in order to serve passengers who were waiting during the day.

He, however, could not tell if the situation could remain the same in the coming days, adding that it was a natural phenomenon.

“Even though the authority has sophisticated machines that could enable aircraft to move in the bad weather, we cannot do anything about the situation if it gets out of hand,” he said.