Most flights back on at Mactan-Cebu airport

OPERATIONS at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) are now returning to normal, but some flights are still canceled due to the “after effects” of the communications blackout on Jan. 1, 2023.

MCIA Authority general manager Julius “Jayjay” Neri Jr. told SunStar Cebu that most of the flights scheduled to depart and arrive on Monday, Jan. 2, in the airport were able to adhere to their schedule.

However, there were around 10 flights that were canceled since their assigned airplane had been rerouted to a different airport following the incident.

“Tungod kay naay (Because there are) canceled nga mga flights, the airplanes are not where they are supposed to be,” Neri said Monday.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reported that the main and backup power supply of its air traffic management system had failed, affecting the air traffic control in the entire country.

Since the onset of the incident on New Year’s Day, approximately 6,700 passengers in the MCIA have been stranded in the domestic and international terminals of the airport, said Neri.

Neri said he does not have Monday’s data but as of the evening of Jan. 1, approximately 65 departure and arrival flights in MCIA involving various domestic and international destinations were canceled.

The operations of the MCIA and other airports in the country are expected to be fully normalized after 48 hours, he said.

Neri added that he still has to get the latest report on the incident and cannot provide for now an estimate on the economic cost of the incident to the MCIA and Cebu.

Passenger assistance

As stated in the passenger’s bill of rights, Neri said, airline companies are only mandated to provide food to stranded passengers.

Hotel accommodation cannot be given to them since the incident was somewhat of a force majeure wherein the airline companies have no control over the situation, he explained.

Neri said the MCIA provided assistance to the airline companies by giving them adequate spaces where they set up customer assistance booths and medical stations.

Additional chairs were also installed in the airport to ensure that the elderly, pregnant passengers, and those traveling with infants would be accommodated.

More personnel were also deployed to assist passengers with their queries and ensure that the airport would remain orderly as emotions were expected to run high, said Neri.

Neri said this is the first time that an incident of this magnitude has happened since he became a member of the board of MCIAA in 2016.

With what has happened, Neri hopes that authorities have learned from any mishaps to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“If we will all learn our lessons well and make sure that correct decisions are made based on what happened, it should never happen again,” said Neri.