Flight delays and cancellations greeted travelers flying in and out of the Philippine capital on New Year’s Day, after a power failure at the country’s air traffic management center disrupted communication with all planes.
Local air carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific issued separate advisories on Sunday warning that several of their domestic and international flights will either be delayed or diverted due to the “technical issues” with the navigational air traffic management system at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila.
The Manila International Airport Authority said at least 282 flights were either delayed, cancelled or diverted to other regional airports, affecting around 56,000 passengers.
Images on social media showed heavy traffic going to NAIA Terminal 3, and large crowds at waiting areas at the airport, with airline staff distributing food packs and drinks.
Utility firm Meralco has also issued a statement saying there was no power interruption at the building housing the Air Traffic Management Centre.
Airport management said the air navigation system was “partially restored” as at 4pm, allowing limited flight operations.
The first plane to land in NAIA after the system glitch was a Philippine Airlines flight from Brisbane, Australia, at 4:55 pm, while a Cathay Pacific plane bound for Hong Kong departed at past 5:30 pm.
But most of the affected passengers have yet to receive updates on their rescheduled flights.
Some passengers hoping to be with their loved ones on the first day of 2023 aired their grievances on social media.
Christle Casador’s flight from Davao province in southern Philippines to Manila was initially delayed by five hours on Sunday.
She said her flight was stuck for another two hours on the tarmac before the passengers were asked to disembark due to the air traffic issues in Manila.
“Been travelling a lot, but this is my first time encountering this problem. We don’t know when the next scheduled flight will be, but at least we are safe. Anyway, happy new year,” Casador said on Facebook.
Myra Dee Lopez, 47, was supposed to return home to Manila after her holiday on Bali, Indonesia, on Sunday morning, but Cebu Pacific had to divert her flight to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, instead
“What a way to start the year,” she tweeted, adding an “upset” emoji.
Dr Lopez said that the airline has yet to reschedule her flight as it is waiting instructions from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
At NAIA Terminal 4, affected passengers waited to find out if their flights had been rescheduled.
Scores of passengers bound for Manila from local airports such as Caticlan, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga City, as well as Filipinos returning from Singapore were also stranded as they awaited new flight details.
CAAP has apologized to all affected passengers and said it is now addressing the issue.
“The safety of the passengers is the priority of the agency, and it is better to secure the aircraft on the ground to avoid any airborne accidents,” it said in a statement.
NAIA has been ranked one of the worst airports in the world, due to persistent flight delays, long queues, air-conditioning problems and other issues affecting passengers.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES