By Ma. Cristina Arayata

(File photo) 

MANILA – Local carriers are now focusing on mounting recovery flights following a number of cancellations due to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ (CAAP) air traffic management technical issue on Jan. 1, executives reported Monday. 

“We are working on restoring normal operations following the glitch. So far, Cebu Pacific (CEB) successfully dispatched the first wave of international flights. We are now working on mounting extra sections for passenger recovery,” CEB spokesperson Carmina Romero told the Philippine News Agency.

 Romero said CEB had to cancel 259 flights, affecting 26,253 passengers on Jan. 1. Since the cancellations, delays and diversions have a consequential effect, the carrier has canceled 75 flights, affecting 11,578 passengers on Monday.

 “Hopefully, all these will clear up,” Romero said, adding that CEB is encouraging passengers to manage bookings online. 

Philippine Airlines (PAL) spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said they are also focusing on recovery operations in the Manila hub and aim to complete the flights within the day. 

She noted that recovery flight operations create a domino effect, delaying the flights supposedly scheduled for Monday. 

“We could not fly back our planes yesterday even with restart of airport operations (at 4 p.m. Sunday) because flight arrivals are limited to 15 per hour,” she explained. 

DOT assistance 

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has activated its ground personnel in various airports to assist affected travelers, as directed by Secretary Christina Frasco. 

Tourists were advised to constantly monitor updates on flight schedules through the official social media platforms and websites of the Department of Transportation and airlines, according to a news release on Monday. 

The DOT and its regional offices have been in close coordination with concerned local government units, stakeholders and other relevant offices in monitoring the situation of tourists across the country.

 Investigation underway 

The Manila International Airport Authority said an estimated 65,000 passengers were affected by the technical issue at the Air Traffic Control as of Sunday night. 

In a statement on Monday, CAAP said the Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance / Air Traffic Management system encountered power supply failure and its uninterruptible power supply likewise didn’t work. 

The main cause of the power supply problem is being determined, according to CAAP. 

“Despite the circumstances, CAAP, alongside concerned authorities, has ensured that no aircraft or passengers were harmed.

CAAP is grateful to its air traffic management officers, air navigation system officers, and other staff involved in ensuring that the country’s air traffic maintained its safety in spite of the power failure encountered by the system,” it said. CAAP said it has already made recommendations on improving the air traffic management system. (PNA)