Philippines airspace closures to continue

Cebu Pacific and Air Asia planes parked at Ninoy Aquino airport in the Philippines.
patrickroque01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Philippines will be closing their airspace on May 17 2023 to carry out essential maintenance works, following a spate of issues with their ATC infrastructure, and with Ninoy Aquino International Airport systems over the last 6 months.

Previous issues

January 1 2023 saw the closure of the entire airspace following a failure in one of the main electrical substations at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), Manila.

The Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC) at Ninoy Aquino is the control center for both the country’s primary international airport and for airspace across a large area of the Philippines.

The outages took the radio and radar control systems offline, resulting in disruptions across the airspace, and impacting all major airports in the country.

During the 6 hours outage period before services were partially restored, all commercial aircraft were re-routed or diverted to neighbouring countries affecting some 282 flights and 56,000 passengers.

The airport’s ageing infrastructure has been increasingly overwhelmed with the growing capacity demands placed on it, and the January 1 failure came after a series of smaller issues and outages throughout 2022.

A further closure occurred on January 22 during maintenance to replace the primary cooling fans for some of the system’s uninterruptible power supplies.


Another outage then occurred on May 3rd for ongoing maintenance following a major outage on May 1 over the Labour Day long weekend holiday.

Ticketing hall of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City, Metro Manila
Above: Ticketing hall of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City, Metro Manila. Photo Credit: Patrickroque01 CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ongoing disruption

Major maintenance is now planned for May 17 2023, for 6 hours between 12am and 6am local time, during which replacements to parts of the ATMC uninterruptible power supply will be made, along with upgrades to increase redundancy.

The period sees lighter traffic levels, and the main impact will be at Ninoy Aquino. CAAP have advised it will cause only ‘minimal flight disruptions’, however disruptions may filter through to the country’s other 42 airports.

This will include Clark (CRK) and Mactan-Cebu (CEB) international airports as they deal with the backlog of flights and may be closed as they support the ‘runway clearing’ for MNL. Overflights will not be available during the closure period.

CAAP have advised that the 6 hours may reduce, and only 4.5 hours are forecast to be needed. Contingency procedures will be in place with stakeholders and airlines having already been informed.

By Rebecca Lougheed 3 Min Read
3 Min Read
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