It is incredible, and very annoying, whenever a single event can have a massive knock-on effect on a great many other happenings, especially if it happens in a tremendously busy locale like, say, an international airport. Last week, a passenger aircraft from China attempted to land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on significantly rainy conditions. It ended up sliding off the runway, resulting in its nose wheel falling apart and its left engine being torn loose upon contact with the ground. NAIA officials closed the airport for 24 hours to clear the craft, leading to flight delays that have carried on until today.
CNN Philippines has it that the great flight schedule mess-up triggered by the botched landing of Xiamen Air Flight MF8667 on the NAIA runway last Thursday, August 16, continues to plague airline passengers not only in Manila but in key air hubs across the country up to this Monday, August 20. The emergency closure for 24 hours of the airport following that incident has led to near catastrophic repercussions, with inbound and outbound flights being delayed by anywhere between several hours to several days already. Passengers found themselves stuck at NAIA under some appalling conditions.
These passengers, both local and overseas and ranging from tourists to business workers, were left flatfooted and complaining that some of their airlines failed to effectively communicate the cancellation of their various respective flights, leading to many of them being forced to sleep in the NAIA waiting lounges. OFWs were the most badly hit by the flight troubles; some had soon-to-expire working visas while others were barred from departing by Immigration on other flights due to being cleared only for the cancelled ones. These passengers have been reduced to handout PAL meals, thrice daily for three days, none further afterwards.
Even other airports in the Philippines could not escape the brouhaha. An identical picture could be painted of the similarly stranded passengers in Davao International Airport, also reduced to sleeping on floors and hallways until they can receive reschedules or any sort of updates. Senator JV Ejercito shared their plight on Sunday, August 19, when he was stranded and spent the night in the lounge. He blames the chaos on NAIA’s old intersecting runway layout, which is shut down entirely when just any one of the runways is cordoned off. He proposes a “double-airport” system for Manila like Tokyo, Japan, which has Narita and Haneda.
NAIA officials are meeting today with Xiamen Air representatives to discuss the latter’s damaged aircraft.
Not all is bad about the situation. There was a heartwarming moment at a Cebu Pacific Davao-Cebu flight where the passengers applauded their captain who was retiring after that trip.
Images from Channel NewsAsia and Facebook