NAIA flights back to normal, says manager

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2018 10:45 AM | Updated as of Aug 22 2018 11:06 AM

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MANILA - Operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have normalized, its manager said Wednesday after a runway closure forced the cancellation of some 200 flights.

Thousands of OFWs and holidaymakers were stranded at NAIA after a Chinese plane lost its left engine during a bumpy landing, blocking the main runway from Thursday evening to Saturday noon.

"In terms of flight schedule, balik na po tayo sa normal... Lahat ng regular schedules, they're already on normal operations," Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said.

(In terms of flight schuedules, we have returned to normal. All regular schedules, they're already on normal operations.)

Heavy rains had softened the ground around NAIA's runway, making it difficult for 2 cranes rented by authorities to lift the stalled Xiamen Airlines aircraft, MIAA earlier said.

The pace of recovery operations drew angry reactions on social media, with some criticizing NAIA's need to rent cranes from a construction firm.

There are no international standards for how long a recovery operation should take, said Monreal.

Authorities in Bangkok and Kathmandu in separate instances took almost 4 days to remove stalled planes that blocked their airport runways, he noted.

Many parts of a crane, he added, need to be fixed before it can lift stalled aircraft.

NAIA has its own lifting bags, flatbed vehicles and chains for emergencies, but authorities would need to study buying cranes for the airport as these will not be used everyday and could only be operated and maintained by skilled workers, Monreal said.

UNCOORDINATED FLIGHTS

Authorities are also looking into possible sanctions against airlines that mounted 61 make-up flights after the runway closure without seeking clearance, said Monreal.

The uncoordinated flights crammed passengers in departure halls and hampered the normalization of airport operations, MIAA said.

Xiamen Airlines, which brought in 4 uncoordinated flights, apologized to authorities during a meeting last Friday, Monreal said, adding that he has yet to talk to other airlines.

OFWS SEEK HELP

Jeddah-bound OFWs affected by the cancelled trips, meanwhile, appealed to authorities to coordinate with their employers.
 
Some of them were booked by Philippine Airlines into a recovery flight that would land in Riyadh, from where they will ride a bus to Jeddah.

Female skilled workers, however, may be detained at the Riyadh airport if they are not fetched by their employers, who are required to travel with them to Jeddah, they told ABS-CBN News.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration earlier said it will send representatives to wait for OFWs at airports abroad. The Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said will give P5,000 each to migray workers delayed by the NAIA runway's 36-hours closure.

Aviation authorities are investigating the incident. The Senate and the House of Representatives were also planning separate inquiries.

With reports from Henry Atuelan and Tina Marasigan, ABS-CBN News