Airports closed, flights canceled
MANILA, Philippines — A total of 508 flights were canceled on Tuesday after operations in all four terminals of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) were suspended from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the onslaught of Typhoon “Tisoy” (international name: Kammuri).
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said the shutdown of Naia operations was a “necessary precaution” to ensure the safety not just of airport personnel but the air traveling public as well.
According to the weather bureau, Tisoy was nearest in Manila around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, packing winds of up to 140 kilometers per hour—powerful enough to move unsecured parked commercial aircrafts.
In a joint statement of the Department of Transportation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) and MIAA, it explained that airport operations are automatically suspended once the surface wind strength reaches 120 kph under existing regulation.
Naia runway reopened
Airline standard mandates that when winds reach 90 kph, airlines shall implement preemptive evacuation of their aircraft.
At a press briefing with Caap Director General Jim Sydiongco, Monreal announced the reopening of Naia’s runway at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and the resumption of airport operations, with Tisoy on its way out of the Philippine area of responsibility.
A Cebu Pacific flight was supposed to be the first domestic flight to arrive at Naia by 7 p.m. while an Eva Air flight from Taiwan will be the first international flight to arrive at 11:40 p.m.
Monreal said that as of 6 p.m., the Naia runway and ramps were useable as there were no debris or potholes, but there were no planes to board yet due to the announced cancellations of more than 500 flights for 12 hours and the evacuation of aircraft from the airport complex earlier in the day.
Evacuated aircraft return
The MIAA chief said domestic airlines that evacuated their planes to provincial airports were already starting to return to Naia.
He said PAL would be able to bring back all its eight evacuated aircraft to Naia by 1 a.m. on Wednesday, 15 aircraft of AirAsia by 11 p.m. on Tuesday, and about 30 aircraft of Cebu Pacific and Cebgo between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Tuesday.
The airlines can already start mounting their “recovery flights” or the rescheduled trips of the flights that were canceled earlier in the day. Monreal said some of the returning aircraft from the provinces would also be carrying passengers.
Flights to resume
The MIAA chief said international airlines that canceled their trips might also mount their recovery flights from 1:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m., the time allotted for runaway maintenance.
From 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday onward, the regular daily scheduled flights were expected to resume, he said.
However, Monreal appealed to passengers to contact their airlines to first verify their rebookings and not come to the airport as “chance passengers” or without confirmed flights.
Before the 12-hour closure of Naia started, the MIAA said a total of 197 international and domestic flights landed or departed on Wednesday.
However, some domestic flights scheduled before 11 a.m. left passengers stranded.
The Caap director general on Tuesday said they were working to reestablish communication channels with airports in the Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions.
In particular, Legazpi airport (Bicol International Airport) had already sustained heavy damages in the departure area, said Syndiongco.
Pictures and videos of the airport circulating online showed that the facility’s walls have partially given way, the roof ripped from the ceiling and windows broken.
In Visayas, Calbayog airport’s terminal building was also badly hit by Tisoy’s destructive effects. Damage was estimated at P2.5 million.
Cynthia Tumanut, Caap Center Area 5 manager, said they were still establishing reports of the exact damage to the Legazpi airport.
Virac airport sustained minimal damages and is expected to be operational again tomorrow.
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