New Year fiasco underscores need for airport upgrades: business group


Posted at Jan 02 2023 11:51 AM

MANILA - The technical issue which immobilized the country's airports for a certain period on New Year's Day highlights the need for airport improvements, a business group leader said on Monday. 

The Civil Aviation Authority's Air Traffic Management Center experienced a technical issue on Jan. 1. For some time on New Year's Day, the Philippine airspace was clear of flights due to the issue. 

Operations of the Air Traffic Management Center was restored past 5 p.m. on Sunday but hundreds of flights and thousands of domestic and international passengers were affected. 

According to the Department of Transportation, the air navigation system is used by the aviation authorities to monitor the location of planes and to man the traffic for those entering and leaving the country's airspace. 

The DOTr said the upgraded system was inaugurated in 2018. 

The delays left foreign travelers "disappointed," Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George Barcelon said in a statement.

"The airport incident definitely has a negative impact on our image. My flight was delayed by this and the comments I heard from foreign travelers, [there] were disappointment, coupled with frustration that this happened to a supposedly progressive nation," Barcelon said.

"It's a wake up call to improve our nation's airport because a recent survey ranked us quite low. I hope back-up and disaster recovery systems can be installed," he added.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport was ranked as a 3-star airport by global ranking agency Skytrax in 2021.

A consortium made up of the country's biggest conglomerate earlier proposed to rehabilitate the NAIA. The project by the NAIA Consortium, however, did not push through.

In August, Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista said the agency would seek fresh bids for the airport rehabilitation project.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Corp is building the New Manila Airport in Bulakan, Bulacan, which is meant to decongest NAIA.

The Department of Budget and Management in September said it has earmarked some P2.5 billion for airport modernization under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023 as part of the increased allocation for the DOTr.

-- with a report from Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News


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