Cancelled Davao flights strand thousands of passengers

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PHILIPPINES-AIRLINE-ACCIDENT

About 30 domestic flights were cancelled on Monday as aviation authorities shut down Davao International Airport after a passenger jet overshot the runway when landing during a rainstorm.

As many as 3,000 passengers were affected by the closure, an official of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.

The CAAP said the airport would be closed until Monday evening while authorities removed the Cebu Pacific Airbus A320 plane.

The jet, with 165 people aboard, “veered off to the right of the runway” shortly after landing on Sunday night from Manila, the company said.


“All the passengers were safe,” Cebu Pacific spokeswoman Candice Iyog told Agence France Presse. “We do not know exactly what caused the airplane to swerve, but we are cooperating with the accident investigators.”

Civil Aviation spokesman Eric Apolonio said workers on the ground estimated it would take until Monday night to safely remove the plane.

“We do not want to cause any extensive damage to the airplane and the runway,” he said.

“There will be no flights to and from Davao until then,” he said.

Iyog said Cebu Pacific cancelled 20 flights for the day, while rival Philippine Airlines (PAL) had cancelled 11.

Davao International Airport is the main gateway to Mindanao.

It is designed to handle about two million passengers annually.

According to Frederico San Felix, CAAP airport area manager, as many as 3,000 passengers were affected by the cancelled flights.

San Felix the plane can’t be towed away until investigators take a look at it.

The aircraft will have to be lifted and placed on a steel plate before it can be removed from the runway.

Cebu Pacific said passengers on the affected flights will be re-accommodated on the next available flights and “their needs are being taken care of.”

As of 9 a.m. Monday, the 23 cancelled domestic flights are PAL PR-809/PR-810 (Manila-Davao-Manila); PR-811/PR-812 (Manila-Davao-Manila); PR-808 (Manila-Davao).

CEB Manila-Davao-Manila flights 5J-979/5J-980; 5J-977/5J-978; 5J-975/5J-976; 5J-963/5J-964; 5J-973/5J-974; 5J-965/5J-966; 5J-961/5J-962; 5J-969/5J-970; and 5J-959/5J-960.

Cebu Pacific said it has arranged for 10 extra roundtrip flights between Manila and General Santos, four extra flights between Cebu and General Santos, one extra flight between Iloilo and General Santos and one extra flight between Zamboanga and General Santos to re-accommodate affected passengers.

For its part, PAL said it has upgraded to a wide-bodied aircraft for its General Santos-Manila flight Monday afternoon to accommodate passengers from Davao who are willing to be re-routed to General Santos.

The airline said it will take care of the land transfer from Davao to General Santos using air-conditioned buses. All rebooking fees for the affected flights are being waived.

BENJIE L. VERGARA, SHEILA MANALAC and AFP

 

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