Passengers stranded, airport closed
Raffy T. Cabristante (The Freeman) - August 15, 2018 - 12:00am

PAL plane tires burst at runway

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — Hundreds of passengers at the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport were stranded yesterday after a Philippine Airlines (PAL) plane burst two of its tires in the middle of the runway, prompting airport officials to declare a temporary shutdown.

PAL Flight 2541, which was scheduled to leave for Manila early morning yesterday, was cancelled due to the tire burst; at least 115 passengers were stranded but unharmed.

Because the plane was stuck in the runway, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) opted to close down the airport pending the repair of the aircraft. For this reason, all other morning flights to and from Dumaguete were cancelled, including those from PAL’s rival airline Cebu Pacific.

Senior Police Officer 2 Jason Sienes of the Aviation Security Group (AVSEGROUP) told The FREEMAN that according to the plane’s pilot, the 156-seater Airbus A320’s rare tires already had issues as it was flying from Manila.

Initial AVSEGROUP investigation showed that the plane experienced "hard landing" upon touchdown at around 6:42 a.m. and was not able to reach the airport’s disembarkation area.

As of this writing, PAL officials in Dumaguete are still waiting for the airline’s mechanics from Cebu to fix the problem.

In a radio interview, PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said they will immediately begin investigations whether the tire was caused by a maintenance issue or a foreign object.

“Safe and sound naman ang mga pasahero, nakalapag safely ‘yung eroplano, pero during the roll-in sa runway, nagkaroon nga po ng tire issue. We are resolving the problem within the day,” Villaluna said.

Villaluna also apologized to the affected passengers for the inconvenience the incident caused them, adding that PAL is assisting them in rebooking their flights for free. Passengers may rebook their flights within 30 days from their original flight date.

As of press time, The FREEMAN tried but failed to reach Dumaguete Airport manager Mark Diamaoden for comment.

Among the hundreds of passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the incident was Dumaguete City deputy administrator Dinno Depositario.

Depositario was supposed to fly on Tuesday morning to attend a conference in Cebu on behalf of the city government. Because of this, he booked boat tickets to Cebu instead.

He added that PAL had already promised him to refund his airfare, noting that other Korean and Chinese tourists have also requested a refund from the airline.

"This is a fortuitous event. Wala tayong magagawa rito because things like this happen. Buti na lang inconvenience lang ang naidulot niya at walang namatay o nasaktan sa insidente," Depositario said over the phone.

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