MANILA - Senator Grace Poe on Sunday said managers of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) should explain why it took 2 days to remove a Chinese plane that blocked its main runway, grounding hundreds of flights.
Poe, chair of the Senate public servicess committee, said she will file a resolution on Monday to direct her panel to probe the operational procedures in responding to such emergency situations.
"This is not the first time that a plane has skidded off the runway and it certainly won't be the last," Poe said in a statement.
"Bakit inabot ng dalawang araw bago magsimula ulit ang operasyon ng NAIA? Hindi ba kayang gawin ito nang mas mabilis para hindi gaanong naperwisyo ang libu-libong pasahero?" she added.
(Why did it take 2 days for NAIA operations to restart? Was it impossible to solve this faster so that thousands would not have been inconvenienced?)
Authorities closed NAIA's main runway late Thursday after it was blocked by a Xiamen Airlines plane that ripped off its left engine during a bumpy landing.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or diverted to Clark and Cebu before the runway reopened on Saturday noon.
Passengers, however, continued to complain of long lines and the alleged lack of food and water from some airlines on Sunday.
Flight information displays were also reportedly shut, forcing airline staff had to walk around with pieces of paper with the flight details to call for boarding, Poe noted.
“Bakit hinayaang dumami ang tao sa NAIA hanggang napuno ito? Wala ba silang polisiya na abisuhan ang mga customer kapag may ganitong insidente? Kung may free mobile disaster warnings, hindi ba pwede magkaroon, on their own initiative, ng free cancelled flight alerts?” the lawmaker said.
(Why were people allowed to go to NAIA until it was packed? Isn't there a policy to notify customers on incidents like this? If there are free mobile disaster warning, can they not have free cancelled flight alerts on their own initiative?)
“The public deserves an acceptable explanation. This is important, considering that NAIA remains the primary gateway for foreign tourists into the country," she added.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Manila International Airport Authority general manager Eddie Monreal, airline executives and some affected passengers will be invited to the Senate hearing on the incident, said Poe.
The hearing will also tackle a resolution filed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on the status of Metro Manila airports and the government’s plans on modernizing them.
NAIA can only handle 30 million passengers, but is currently accommodating around 42 million, Poe pointed out.
She said she also wants to know the status of a P350-billion plan of a private consortium to rehabilitate and upgrade NAIA.