Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) has suspended its flights to Lagos, saying it will not resume them until the airport’s Instrument Landing System (ILS) has improved enough to assist pilots in coping with the haze of the Harmattan, the winter-to-spring season that blows dust from the Sahara Desert across West Africa, reducing visibility.

Since February 10, airlines, especially non-Nigerian carriers, have diverted numerous Lagos-bound flights to Accra in Ghana and Dakar Blaise Diagne Int'l in Senegal, stranding hundreds of passengers in these cities, the Nigerian broadsheet This Day reported.

Emirates operates 14x weekly between Dubai and Lagos, according to the ch-aviation capacities module. On February 13, it diverted to Accra and engaged domestic carrier Arik Air (W3, Lagos) to carry passengers on to Lagos. The following day it recalled three sets of crew stranded for four days in Lagos, flying them back to Dubai via Abuja, to which it flies to 7x weekly.

More than 1,500 Nigerians are currently stranded in Accra, according to the report, with some staying in hotels paid for by the airlines that diverted them there. In contrast, others have been left by carriers to fend for themselves.

British Airways has cancelled its 7x weekly Lagos route citing operational constraints, reportedly telling passengers in an email: “Due to adverse weather at the airport, we were unable to safely land in Lagos. If you wish to travel from Accra to London Heathrow, there are a limited availability of seats to book on. [...] Our Customer Relations team will review each case on an individual basis.”

Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa, Air France, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have also diverted flights away from Lagos and are considering similar suspensions to Emirates, This Day reported.

CAT III ILS was installed in Lagos last year, but calibration control was not completed so it could not be put to use.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika has apologised to airlines and passengers and said that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) was working to make the ILS operable. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said in a circular to pilots and airlines that the adverse weather may last until March.

Emirates was not immediately available for comment.