Officials in the Philippines said they have restored air traffic control operations after hundreds of flights were cancelled or diverted on New Year’s Day when a power outage shut down operations and Manila’s airport. The Air Traffic Management Center at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport resumed normal operations on Sunday following a power outage, the Department of Transportation said in a Facebook post. A problem with the power supply earlier in the day led to a “loss of communication, radio, radar, and internet,” Philippine Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista said.
More than 360 flights in and out of Manila were cancelled, diverted or delayed, affecting about 56,000 passengers, according to the AFP news agency. It was unclear how many overflights were impacted.
Bautista said that the Civil Aviation Authority at the airport resumed normal operations at about 5.50pm. At a media briefing, he apologised for the inconvenience to passengers as he blamed a power outage for the breakdown of the central air traffic control system that also affected operations at other airports in the country. He said the outdated existing facility should be upgraded immediately and that a backup system was also needed. “This is air traffic management system issue,” Bautista said. “If you will compare us with Singapore, for one, there is a big difference, they are at least 10 years ahead of us.”
Equipment restoration is still ongoing, the country’s Department of Transportation said in a Facebook post on Sunday night. The airport’s system had earlier been “partially restored” at 4pm.
Bautista added that Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr is “very much aware of the situation” and has ordered authorities to extend assistance to affected passengers. He added that the Department of Transportation has also liaised with its airline partners for the provision of food, refreshments, transportation, lodging, and accommodation for all the cancelled flights “which are to be provided by the airlines free of charge to all affected passengers”.