Philippines main airport scrambles to restore normalcy after power cut

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The aging Ninoy Aquino international airport was early Monday handling a maximum of 15 arrivals per hour compared to 20 during normal operations, said Cesar Chiong, general manager of the International Airport Authority of Manila.

The outage was the result of the unprecedented failure of both primary and secondary power supplies, he said.

“It will take about 72 hours or more for the airlines to normalize their operations,” Chiong told the ANC news channel.

There were 361 flights either delayed, canceled or diverted to other regional airports on Sunday, affecting around 65,000 passengers, while several other flights were forced to reroute to avoid Philippine airspace.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines said it was arranging recovery flights from the United States, Singapore and Malaysia and diverting some flights to domestic airports. Budget carrier Cebu Pacific canceled 54 domestic flights on Monday.

Chiong said the airport had introduced its own power system in 2018 but on Sunday, both the main and backup systems failed.

When they connected directly to regular commercial electricity, they experienced overvoltage and power surges, he added, causing equipment to fail including radar, communications, radio and internet.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport was previously ranked among the worst international gateways in the world, with flight delays a regular occurrence, and a history of updates that were delayed or abandoned due to disputes between the airport and contractors.

The Philippines hopes to relieve the pressure by building multibillion-dollar airports in Manila’s surrounding provinces, including Cavite and also in Bulacan, due to begin operations in 2027.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty)

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