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Philippines NAIA: Power outage strands thousands, flights canceled on New Year’s Eve

Philippines NAIA: Power outage strands thousands, flights canceled on New Year's Eve
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(CNN) — Chaos descended upon him. new year A severe power outage in the Philippines temporarily affected air traffic control at the country’s largest airport, disrupting nearly 300 flights and stranding tens of thousands of passengers in central Southeast Asia.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) is the main gateway for travelers to the Philippines, serving the capital Manila and the surrounding area.

The technical issues were first detected on Sunday morning, the airport operator said in a statement, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

As of 16:00 local time on New Year’s Day, a total of 282 flights were delayed, canceled or diverted to other regional airports, affecting approximately 56,000 passengers. It was unclear how many overhead flights were affected, Reuters reported.

Philippine Transport Minister Jaime Bautista apologized for the inconvenience caused to passengers at a press conference on Sunday evening, January 1, and said the airport’s central air traffic control system had suffered a severe power outage. He added that although there is a backup power supply, it cannot provide enough power.

“It was an air traffic management system issue,” Bautista said. “If you compare (our airport) with Singapore’s, there is a big difference – they are at least 10 years ahead of us,” he said.

Bautista added that the transportation department is working in coordination with the affected airlines to provide free food, drink, transportation and accommodation to all affected passengers.

Among the flights affected by the airspace disruption was a Qantas flight bound for Manila, which departed from Sydney shortly before 13:00 local time on January 1. return to Australia.

“All airlines were blocked from arriving in Manila on Sunday afternoon as local authorities closed their local airspace,” Qantas said in a statement. Said. “This meant that our flight from Sydney had to return.”

CAAP said in an update that as of 5:50 p.m. local time, operations partially resumed and the airport was once again starting to accept inbound flights. In a statement made on Facebook by the Ministry of Transport, it was stated that airport operations have returned to normal and equipment restoration continues.

But more flight cancellations continued through Monday, January 2, affiliate CNN Philippines reported.

Frustrated and tired passengers complained that they were at a loss for what to do as they camped outside the airline ticket offices for clarifications and early flights.

The incident sparked a public outcry on the internet – many, including politicians, questioned how and why the blackout happened in the first place.

“What a way to welcome the new year at our country’s airports,” said Filipino Senator Grace Poe in an official tweet. Monday. “We will conduct an investigation to find out who is responsible and how we can prevent this from happening again.”

Global air travel has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, but passenger traffic is slowly picking up as industry experts predict the industry will return to previous normal levels by 2025.

Photos and videos shared online showed huge crowds at the NAIA. Curling queues were seen at many check-in counters. Many passengers carrying their luggage were seen huddled around the flight arrival screens, waiting for updates.

Manny V. Pangilinan, a Filipino businessman, twitter He said he was on his way back from Tokyo to Manila, but the plane had to return to Haneda airport due to “radar and navigation facilities at NAIA not working.”

“Six hours of useless flight,” he said. “The inconvenience for travelers and the losses for tourism and commerce are appalling.” Pangilinan said his plane finally landed in Manila at 11:00 pm local time.

Student Xavier Fernandez was one of the thousands affected by New Year’s flight disruptions. He spent hours on the phone with United Airlines and other flight companies to rebook his flight to San Francisco at a later date. “It was a complete nightmare” He also told CNN that he had been at the airport for more than 10 hours.

Fernandez also said there were other passengers who boarded the plane before the power cuts were announced on Sunday morning and were eventually forced to get off the plane after waiting several hours on the plane.

The massive flight disruptions come amid a busy year-end travel season in the Philippines, where large numbers of foreign tourists, as well as overseas citizens, fly into the country from abroad to celebrate some of the country’s most important holidays, Christmas and New Year. celebrations.

Fernandez was in Manila to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with his family.

“Literally the worst way to start the year,” he said of the episode.

The New Year airport crisis has also distanced many Filipinos working overseas from their flights to destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Nora Dela Cruz, a domestic worker, told CNN her job was “now in limbo” after she failed to return to Hong Kong on Sunday. She said she was “offloaded” because of the delays, along with other women working in the industry.

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