Slow reaction to Davao airport closure

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Anywhere else in the world, what happened at the Davao International Airport earlier this week would have been corrected in a hurry. Certainly within a few hours after a plane that overshot the runway had caused airport operations to grind to a halt, both the government and the airline would have worked together to remove the plane and get the airport to resume normal operations.

This did not happen in Davao.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Phils. (CAAP) did not send accident investigators to the site soon enough with the weak excuse that their team could not fly in because the airport was closed.

Well of course the airport was closed. This was precisely why the CAAP had to work as quickly as possible to investigate the scene of the accident and help remove the aircraft, which was preventing planes from flying in and out.

Because of the slow reaction to the closure of the Davao airport, thousands of travelers were left stranded, even as thousands more who were scheduled to fly in to Davao had to reschedule their flights.

Making matters worse are the complaints over how Cebu Pacific handled – or should we say mishandled – the crisis.

Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. It would seem that the crew of the airline did their job in the moments leading to the accident. It is what they failed to do next that has passengers of the ill-fated flight up in arms.

By most accounts, there was much confusion immediately after the plane overshot the runway. Witnesses say the crew failed to give instructions to the passengers at a time when they were all looking for guidance.

After they had made it to the safety of the airport, the Cebu Pacific passengers were left in the dark for long hours over what would happen next.

They were not alone.

Then the country’s second flag carrier left the mess they left behind entirely up to the government to resolve. There was no effort to remove the plane from the end of the runway, which seems like a simple enough operation. After all, the plane was intact. The landing gear was intact.

What should have been a minor discomfort of a few delayed flights for a few hundred passengers became a full-blown emergency of scores of cancelled flights affecting thousands of travelers.

Clearly, CAAP and Cebu Pacific are to blame. They totally ignored the needs of the public to have the Davao International Airport operating as soon as possible.

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