President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday ordered officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to adopt “contingency measures” to make sure that a power outage does not occur again at the country’s premier Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The order came two days after afive-hour power outage hit NAIA Terminal 3.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that Aquino directed Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado to adopt contingency measures to prevent the recurrence of the power outage that disrupted operations at NAIA Terminal 3 over the weekend.
“Airport authorities were also instructed to maintain vigilance so that the safety of travelers will be assured continuously,” he said.
Power at Terminal 3 was not restored until before dawn on Sunday, prompting cancelation of flights and leaving passengers stranded there.
The MIAA said the power outage was caused by a sub-station of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) tripping around 8:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Meralco said the glitch was restored in less than a minute.
According to the utility, the five-hour power outage could have been caused by “trouble on the customer’s loadside.”
The blackout threatens to put the NAIA back on the list of worst airports in the world, presidential candidate Miriam Defensor-Santiago warned also on Monday.
Santiago said Malacanañg must immediately investigate the incident and remove from office those who are found responsible for it.
“The [MIAA] seems eager to regain the ‘world’s worst airport’ title which it lost only in 2015, not only for inconveniencing passengers, but for not working as it should,” the senator added.
The NAIA was the world’s worst airport from 2011 to 2013, and the fourth worst in 2014, according to online travel website Guide to Sleeping in Airports, which ranks airports based on comfort, convenience, cleanliness and customer service.
Santiago was reacting to reports that as of Sunday, some 80 domestic flights from NAIA Terminal 3 have been canceled and another 80 international and local flights have been delayed as a result of the blackout, affecting some 15,000 passengers.
The airport administration claimed that even after Meralco restored power, the Terminal 3 remained without electricity.
Santiago said the NAIA must have uninterrupted power supply.
“Assuming for the sake of argument that the Meralco line tripped, where were the generators? The explanation that they were not working is unacceptable,” she added.
The infrastructure agenda Santiago posted on her website includes the development of a modern international airport.
The NAIA runway design, she said, is one of the main causes of congestion.
“The runways are perpendicular to each other, barring planes from using one runway when the other is in use. If the NAIA will be expanded, we must build runways parallel to each other,” the senator added.
“In the meantime, it would be wise to reallocate some flights to the airport in Clark [in Pampanga province north of Manila], which is currently underutilized. Clark Airport should complement, not necessarily replace NAIA,” she said.
WITH NEIL A. ALCOBER