Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said that while the incident was an international embarrassment, he could not put the blame entirely on the two officials.
61 uncoordinated ‘recovery flights’ shock lawmakers
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers yesterday were aghast over reports of 61 uncoordinated “recovery flights” made at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) just after the stalled Xiamen Air passenger jet was removed from the runway last Saturday.

“This is totally unacceptable. Our international airport is not a colorum jeepney or tricycle terminal,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.

The senators were also cool to support calls for Manila International Airport Authority general manager Ed Monreal and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to resign over the mess.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said that while the incident was an international embarrassment, he could not put the blame entirely on the two officials.

He said the situation was compounded by bad weather, the existing congestion of NAIA, and huge number of stranded passengers.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said he would give the two officials the benefit of the doubt.

“Let us wait for the outcome of the investigation currently being conducted before we make any conclusions,” Ejercito said.

Sen. Francis Escudero said he does not subscribe to the “quit mentality” and the officials should immediately rectify the situation “and make sure that we have protocols in place in case a similar incident happens again.”

Monreal reported they were able to document 61 unexpected recovery flights.

He said 61 flights landed at NAIA from Aug. 18 to 19 without clearance from the MIAA, causing further congestion and problems with gate assignment of planes.

He said the airline firms coordinated instead with the Civil Aviaition Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), causing further congestion and hampering the resumption of NAIA’s normal operations.

Recovery flights are those that have been diverted to other airports, but have landed at their original destinations.

Monreal told ANC yesterday that Xiamen deployed four recovery flights without coordinating with airport authorities.

He said the recovery flights were brought in “without seeking clearance.”

“This resulted in additional congestion at the (airport’s) parking base, which we did not anticipate for that particular timeframe,” Monreal said.

Hontiveros said the 61 uncoordinated flights would mean the country’s aviation safety had been compromised.

“One uncoordinated flight is already a cause of concern, what more 61 uncoordinated ones? What MIAA said was true, it’s short of a miracle that no untoward incidents were reported after the Xiamen Air runway mishap,” she said.

Hontiveros said MIAA’s revelation is admission that its management of its immediate airport environment was undermined. 

Hontiveros supported the Senate inquiry into the incident, saying there are a lot of questions the country’s aviation and airport authorities need to explain to the public.  – With Richmond Mercurio, Rudy Santos

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