A statement made by United Nigeria Airlines over the diversion of its Abuja-bound flight to Asaba, Delta state has been opposed by the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo.
A United Nigeria flight destined for Abuja landed in Asaba on Saturday.
“People were thinking that there’s something we were not being told. Until the pilot announced to us that he received a wrong flight plan, that’s when calmness was restored,” a passenger said.
But a few hours after the incident, United Nigeria said the flight was diverted to Asaba due to bad weather in Abuja.
“A United Nigeria Airlines flight, NUA 0504, operating from the MM@ in Lagos enroute Abuja on Sunday, November 26, 2023, was temporarily diverted to the Asaba International Airport due to poor destination weather,” the airline said.
Reacting to the incident, Keyamo said there was no bad weather in Abuja, adding that the diversion was purely an administrative issue in United Nigeria.
In a statement he made after meeting with aviation regulators on Monday over safety concerns in the aviation industry, he said the ministry listened to the communication between the tower to the pilot, as released by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
According to Keyamo, the tower kept asking the pilot to confirm again that the plane was heading to Abuja, not Asaba — the pilot replied that he was going to Asaba.
“It was clear that when the pilot was taking off from Lagos, he was headed to Asaba, not Abuja,” Keyamo said.
“Whereas the flight was headed to Abuja. There was no weather problem in Abuja. It was a question of a wet lease where the pilot and the crew were all foreigners, not Nigerians.”
Ugochi Olivia Ubah is an Educator and a Writer