LONDON – A power outage which caused the closure of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and surrounding airspace on Sunday has resulted in over 360 international and regional flights to be cancelled, delayed or diverted.
The airport closure left tens of thousands of passengers stranded at a peak travel period over the New Year weekend.
According to the Australian national broadcaster ABC News, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation of the Philippines, Jaime Bautista said the problem began when the country’s air traffic control centre lost communication, radio, radar, and internet because of the power cut.
Qantas QF19 turnback
A Qantas flight from Sydney bound for the Philippines was one of the flights seriously affected by the Manila power outage.
The flight, designated Flight QF19 operated by Airbus A330 registered VH-QPJ has departed Sydney on Sunday afternoon local time.
The aircraft had just passed over the northern tip of Queensland and was on track south of Papua New Guinea when the airspace closure forced the flight to make a return to Sydney.
A spokesman for the national flag carrier said in a statement, “All airlines were prevented from arriving into Manila on Sunday afternoon as local authorities closed the local airspace. This meant our flight from Sydney had to turnaround.”
It is understood that as at early Monday morning, the airport main gateway was proceeding on reduced operations.
Cesar Chiong, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority told the ANC news channel: “The outage was the result of the unprecedented failure of both primary and secondary power supplies.”
“It will take around 72 hours or thereabout for the airlines to normalise their operations,” he stated.
The Qantas flight diversion is unfortunate, coming after recent problems which saw a Qantas flight from Singapore to London diverted to Azerbaijan over the Christmas weekend.
Last week a Jetstar flight from Melbourne to Bali, Indonesia was forced to return to Melbourne after landing clearance was denied due to a miscommunication between the airline and Indonesian authorities.