The Philippine government has announced it will launch a formal investigation into what led to a severe outage at the country’s biggest airport on New Year’s Day that disrupted hundreds of flights and left thousands of travelers stranded.
Technical problems were detected at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) on the morning of January 1. The airport serves as the main gateway for travelers entering and leaving the Philippines.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the power outage affected the central air traffic control system. Although there was backup power, it did not provide enough power to restore the system, officials said.
Power eventually returned, but not before affecting nearly 300 total flights. Photos and videos taken at the airport showed thousands of frustrated and tired travelers camping out at airline check-in counters and ticket booths and waiting around flight arrival screens for updates with their luggage in tow .
“There must be transparency and accountability on the part of CAAP,” Senator Grace Poe said in a statement. Poe, who chairs the government’s public services committee, has previously expressed disappointment at the incident.
“We will therefore conduct a hearing within the framework of the Senate oversight function to determine who is responsible and what we must do to prevent the malfunction from happening again,” she added. “We will ask them (CAAP) to submit a full report on what caused the supposed problem and the power outage.”
The official investigation will begin after “normal flight operations have been restored,” the senator concluded.
The large-scale flight disruptions come amid a busy year-end travel season in the Philippines, which sees large numbers of foreign tourists as well as foreign citizens flying into the country from abroad to mark Christmas and the New Year, some of the most important holidays in the country. celebrations.
Operations reportedly resumed Sunday afternoon, but flight delays continued Tuesday for a second straight day, according to CNN Philippines’ verification.
Passengers have been told by airlines to ‘expect more delays’ as new flights are due to replace those canceled on New Year’s Day. “It is a consequence of the recovery operations,” said Cielo Villaluna, spokesman for the national carrier Philippine Airlines.
“A certain percentage of passengers have re-booked their flights to the next available flights.”
“I hope they understand that we are performing our recovery flight operations.”
Top: Passengers check the flight schedule at MNL airport. Photo via Getty Images.