Thousands stranded at Philippine airports due to technical glitch

MANILA: Thousands of travelers stranded in Airports in the Philippines on Sunday after a “loss of communication” at the country’s busiest hub in Manila forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled, delayed or diverted.
The aeronautical authorities detected in the morning a “technical problem” involving the air traffic management center of the national and international airport of Manila.
This came as many people started returning to the capital for work and school after Christmas and New Year’s break.
There were chaotic scenes at check-in counters across the country as thousands tried to rebook tickets or find out when their flight might take off.
Others who had boarded their plane before the glitch was announced waited for hours and then were disembarked.
Airport officials did not specify the cause of the problem, but low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific said in a notice that it was due to “power failure and loss of communication”.
Airport authorities said the air traffic management system was partially restored as of 4 p.m. (0800 GMT) and flights were beginning to take off and land in Manila.
“Flight delays and diversions are only precautionary measures to ensure the safety of passengers, crew and aircraft,” said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said.
More than 280 flights to and from Manila have been cancelled, diverted or delayed, affecting around 56,000 passengers.
Stranded travelers have expressed outrage and annoyance at the malfunction and lack of information provided by airport staff.
A woman who was to fly to Singapore said she spent several hours sitting in the plane on the tarmac.
She and her traveling companions were eventually disembarked and offered hotel rooms.
“We were told it was a complete failure of radio communications at air traffic control,” she told AFP.
Tycoon Manny Pangilinan tweeted that he was flying from Tokyo to Manila when the plane was diverted to Haneda due to “radar and navigation facilities” failing.
“6 hours of unnecessary flight time but the inconvenience to travelers and loss to tourism and business is horrendous. Only in PH. Sigh,” Pangilinan wrote.
Manila passenger Daryll Delgado told AFP she had managed to rebook her flight for a later date after a “frustrating” experience.
An AFP reporter in the southern city of Davao told travelers they were advised “not to go to the airport” — but many only found out their flight had been canceled after they arrived to check in.

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