By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter
UP TO 48 flights were canceled while some were delayed on Monday because of a power outage at Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), authorities said.
“As a result of the power interruption, there were 24 round-trip flights which were canceled. There were also some flights delayed but there were no international flights which were canceled,” Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said in a media briefing on Monday.
The power outage, which started at 1:05 a.m. on May 1 Labor Day holiday, resulted in the cancellation of 48 Cebu Pacific (5J) flights, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said. Among the canceled flights are those going and coming from Tuguegarao, Daraga, Cagayan, Cauayan, Dipolog, Puerto Princesa, Caticlan, Cebu, Panglao, Bacolod, Davao, Butuan, and Zamboanga.
“The MIAA, working with Meralco (Manila Electric Co.), was able to put up the regular power by around 8:46 in the morning. And since then, the operations at NAIA Terminal 3 have commenced using the regular Meralco power,” Mr. Bautista said.
Alexander G. Lao, chief commercial officer of Cebu Pacific, said that around 9,391 passengers were affected by the outage. They were provided free rebooking, refund, or travel fund, he added.
Meanwhile, AirAsia said eight of its flights were slightly delayed due to the power interruption. These include flights to Seoul, Osaka, Taipei, Cebu, and Caticlan.
MIAA General Manager Cesar M. Chiong said his group along with airline operators made sure that the impact of the power outage was minimized. “It was confined to domestic flights,” he said.
“There were over 9,000 domestic passengers that were affected and there were some delays for both international and domestic flights. But so far, as of 1:00 p.m., we were able to operate about 247 flights out of all the flights that we have in NAIA,” he added.
Mr. Chiong said that MIAA normally operates 750 to 760 flights at NAIA and that the 24 roundtrip flights that were canceled represent 6.5% of the total flights.
“Right now, both MIAA and Meralco have yet to drill down on the real cause of the power outage,” Mr. Chiong said.
FULL ELECTRICAL AUDIT
Meralco said that an initial investigation pointed to a problem in the airport terminal’s main circuit breaker.
“We have yet to determine the root cause,” Meralco Engineer Noel Espiritu said. “There was a fault indication at the main circuit breaker of the NAIA Terminal 3 and that fault triggered the circuit breaker.”
Mr. Espiritu said the fault indicator sensed a high amount of current at NAIA Terminal 3’s electrical system, to which the technical team has yet to find the physical manifestation.
Meralco’s team is still checking the exact cause of the fault current, he said, adding that these abnormalities can come from any part of the electrical system.
Meanwhile, MIAA described the power outage as a technical issue that is different from the glitch seen in January when hundreds of flights were affected.
The Department of Transportation (DoTr) needs to investigate with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency why the incident happened at a critical time, Mr. Bautista said, citing similar incidents in September and in January.
“There can be a lot of possibilities. We are not discounting sabotage and Meralco will also help us assess if there is really sabotage or not,” he added.
Mr. Bautista said that there is also a need to do a full electrical audit for all the terminals of NAIA, especially Terminal 3.
“For the full audit, we really need to do procurement because this is really a big project. When we were talking with Meralco, they said that it may take 60 to 90 days to do a full electrical audit and that is only for Terminal 3,” he said.
“It’s about time that we fix this. Of course, we will need a big budget for this and more time as we will go through the regular procurement law,” he added.
Mr. Bautista’s call comes a few days after his department received an unsolicited proposal from the Manila International Airport Consortium for the operation and maintenance of NAIA.
The DoTr and MIAA said that they would review the proposal in accordance with the build-operate-transfer law and its implementing rules and regulations while continuing the development of a solicited procurement option, as supported by the Asian Development Bank.
The unsolicited proposal, valued at more than P100 billion, includes the upfront payment to the government and the committed investments in new facilities and technology of the airport.