'Human error': NAIA-3 flights affected by 37-minute power interruption

James Relativo - Philstar.com
'Human error': NAIA-3 flights affected by 37-minute power interruption
Passengers wait for information about their flights at terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Metro Manila on January 1, 2023. Thousands of travellers were stranded at Philippine airports on January 1 after a "loss of communication" at the country's busiest hub in Manila forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled, delayed or diverted.
AFP / Kevin Tristan Espiritu, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) apologized to passengers and various stakeholders on Friday after a brief power interruption, causing flight delays and long lines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport - Terminal 3.

This happened just a few months after two major power interruptions last New Year and Labor Day.

"Again we would like to apologize to all the passengers and stakeholders po here at terminal 3 today that was inconvenienced because of these brief power interrruption," said MIAA officer-in-charge Bryan Co in a press briefing Friday.

"What happened here was at 12:52 p.m., there was a power interruption... and the power was restored at around 1:29 p.m. So that's around a 37-minute brief interruption. But in between that time, the power generators at terminal 3 have already kicked in."

According to Co, the incident occured while MIAA and Meralco's MSERV were conducting a scheduled electrical audit that is part of the power service improvement being done after the May 1 incident.

While the generators kicked in at around 12:52 p.m., MIAA explained that those were only meant to energize the critical loads of NAIA terminal 3. 

However, airconditiong systems were not turned on immediately as it needed at least 30 minutes to reboot and repower. The same goes for the aviation systems and x-ray, which further contributed to the build up of passengers.

"We still don't have the numbers. But in terms of the flights, there were seven flights that were delayed. That seven is already a combination of departing and arriving flights," Co said.

"Siyempre 'yung mga arriving flights hindi na agad sila naka-dock because the boarding bridges were interrupted briefly until the generators were able to kick in. 'Yung iba delay of 20 minutes, 30 minutes."

What exactly happened?

MIAA said that the root cause of the problem was traced in the substation roadway 2, where one of the crew members inadvertedly left the "test cables" hanging. This caused a power shortage that affected the NAIA terminal 3 system.

When asked by the media if the problem was caused by human error, Co only responded with an affirmative.

"Again, we would like to apologize to all our passengers, the stakeholders that got affected," he said.

"Rest assured, we are looking into all the possible angles on how we can avoid any such recurrence as part of our comprehensive testing."

The incident did not lead to any flight cancellations. Passenger build up was said to have "disappeared" shortly after 2 p.m. MIAA explained that the problem occured during the off peak hours at terminal 3. The bulk of passengers are set to arrive from 4 p.m. to 12 midnight.

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