Tugade sorry for airport chaos

A crane prepares to lift a Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 series passenger aircraft, operating as flight MF8667 from Xiamen to Manila, after it skidded off the runway while attempting to land in bad weather at the Manila international airport. AFP Photo

THE inconvenience caused by Xiamen Air to thousands of passengers when its plane overshot the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Thursday serves as an “eye-opener” for all concerned sectors on how to deal with such an emergency, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Saturday.

The disabled Boeing B737-800 aircraft of Xiamen Air was finally removed from the grassy portion of the NAIA runway 06/24 on Saturday dawn after being stuck since early Friday.

Using a crane, airport ground personnel finally lifted the Xiamen Air at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, and towed it to Balagbag area.

“This incident served as an eye-opener — a reminder for us to take a second look at the processes, procedures, and protocols of concerned agencies, as well as airlines, so that we may all improve in the future,” Tugade said in a statement.


Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the government “must decide immediately what to do with NAIA.”

“Should we have a second runway, for example, or are we going to build one in Bulacan or Clark. I think the government should make a decision,” Recto said in a radio interview.

He said that NAIA and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) must have expected that there would be instances where aircraft would have a bad landing that would require closure of the affected runway. “It must be removed in two or three hours.”

Tugade said the government did its best.

“I am saddened by the inconveniences and consequences brought about by the incident involving Xiamen Air. It is a regrettable experience, which is not of our own liking, nor of our own making. I am sorry. We did our very best to address the situation,” Tugade said.

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal on Saturday also apologized to both local and foreign passengers for all the inconvenience that the runway closure caused.

He said the runway closure was extended anew to 12 noon on Saturday because of demobilization of heavy equipment and clearing of debris at the runway.

A total of 135 flights in NAIA terminals were cancelled while other flights were diverted to other airports on Friday, specifically in Clark and Mactan-Cebu in the Philippines; Bangkok in Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam on Friday.

Monreal has requested the airlines to continuously inform their passengers of their revised flight schedules and make sure that their personnel are at hand to assist passengers.

The MIAA advised passengers to check status of their flights with NAIA flight information at the following numbers: Terminal 1 (8771109 local 765 and 2852), Termial 2 (8771109 local 2882 and 2880), Terminal 4 (8771109 local 4226) and Terminal 4 (8777888 local 8144 and 8146), or call NAIA hotline 8771111 and visit the NAIA official FB page and Twitter account @MIAAGovPh.

Cebu Pacific Air on Saturday cancelled at least seven international and two domestic flights after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) extended the temporary closure of the NAIA to 12 noon.

The CAAP said it was still investigating the incident.