Philippines NAIA: Power outage leaves thousands stranded, flights canceled on New Year’s

(CNN) — The Philippines wreaked havoc on New Year’s Day after a severe blackout temporarily affected air traffic control at the country’s largest airport, disrupting some 300 flights and stranded tens of thousands of travelers at its Southeast Asian hub. did.

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

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

As of 4pm local time on New Year’s Day, a total of 282 flights had either been delayed, canceled or diverted to other regional airports, affecting about 56,000 passengers, it added. The number of overflights affected is unknown, Reuters reported.

At a press conference on Sunday evening, Philippine Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista apologized for the inconvenience caused to passengers and said the airport’s central air traffic control system had suffered a severe power outage. He added that although there was a backup power supply, it could not provide enough power.

“It was an air traffic control system problem,” Bautista said. “If you compare[our airport]to Singapore’s airport, there is a big difference. At least 10 years ahead of us,” he said.

Bautista added that his transportation department was also working with the affected airlines to provide meals, refreshments, transportation and accommodation “for all affected passengers free of charge.”

Among the flights affected by the airspace outage was a Qantas flight to Manila that left Sydney just before 1pm local time on 1 January. back to australia.

“All airlines were unable to reach Manila on Sunday afternoon as local authorities closed the local airspace,” Qantas said in a statement. “This meant that the flight from Sydney had to turn around.”

Operations partially resumed at 5:50 pm local time, with the airport once again accepting inbound flights, CAAP said in an update. Airport operations have returned to normal, but equipment restoration is still underway, according to a Ministry of Transport statement shared on Facebook.

But more flights were canceled until Monday, Jan. 2, affiliate CNN Philippines reported.

Frustrated and weary passengers camped outside the airline’s ticket office, lamenting the loss of explanations and what to do to get an early flight.

The incident has sparked a backlash online, with many, including politicians, questioning how and why the blackout happened in the first place.

Philippine Senator Grace Poe said on her official Twitter account, “What a wonderful way to welcome the New Year at our country’s airports.” Monday. “We will conduct an investigation to find out who is responsible and how we can prevent this from happening.”

Global air travel has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, but passenger numbers are slowly recovering, with industry experts predicting the industry will return to previous normal levels by 2025. doing.

Photos and videos shared online showed large crowds at NAIA. We saw a meandering queue at several check-in counters. Many passengers with luggage were also spotted crowding around the flight arrival screens waiting for updates.

Filipino businessman Manny V. Pangilinan twitter He was on his way back to Manila from Tokyo, but his plane had to return to Haneda Airport because “the NAIA’s radar and navigation facilities malfunctioned.”

“Six hours of wasted flight,” he said. “The inconvenience to tourists and the loss to tourism and business is horrifying.” Pangilinan said his plane finally landed in Manila at 11 p.m. local time.

Student Xavier Fernandez was among the thousands affected by the New Year’s flight disruption. Did. ‘It was a complete nightmare’ He told CNN, adding that he had been at the airport for more than 10 hours.

Fernandez also said there were other passengers who boarded the plane on Sunday morning before the power outage was announced and eventually had to disembark after waiting on board for several hours.

Massive flight disruptions occurred during the busy year-end travel season in the Philippines. In the Philippines, many foreign tourists and expats fly into the country from abroad to celebrate some of the country’s most important holidays, Christmas and New Year. celebration.

Fernandez was in Manila to celebrate Christmas and New Years with his family.

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

The New Year’s airport crisis has forced many Filipinos working abroad to stay away from flights to destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Domestic worker Nora Della Cruz told CNN that her job “is at a loss right now” after she was unable to return to Hong Kong on Sunday. She said she was “offloaded” due to delays, as were the women in

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