Press Release
August 22, 2018

Sen. Nancy sees glaring security, protocol lapses following NAIA fiasco
...says entry of 61 'uncoordinated' flights highly suspicious

What's happening, Pilipinas?

Sen. Nancy Binay today expressed disappointment over the lack of coordination between airport authorities and airline operators which resulted in the unauthorized entry of 61 recovery flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

"Highly suspicious at anomalous ang malusutan tayo ng ganun karami in front of our very noses. Yes, we expect a certain amount of chaos during these kinds of extra-ordinary and emergency situations, and everyone expects that airport and airline personnel are well-trained to handle ang mga kasong ganito, pero ang malusutan na lang tayo eh ibang usapan na yun. Obviously, these factors are the perfect recipes for any individual who has a criminal mind," Binay said.

According to Binay, more than the basic and standard ground handling operations during emergency situations which the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is generally familiar with, there were glaring lapses in the execution and implementation of aviation protocols.

"Given na natin yung naging sobrang delay dahil sa nabalahaw na eroplano, but last week's incident pointed to a string of inadequacies and glaring lapses on the part of airport authorities and airline operators which has a potential implication on national security. The 61 'uncoordinated' flights shows the weaknesses and gaps in our protocols. I hope the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its agencies learned something from the recent experience, otherwise the vulnerability of our airports can be exploited by elements wanting to gain access to our facilities--at wala pa tayo sa usapin ng airspace incursions," Binay pointed out.

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal confirmed that 61 uncoordinated flights worsened airport congestion at the four terminals of the NAIA further delaying flight operations in the wake of the Xiamen Air mishap.

"Passenger safety should always be our paramount concern and so should be security within and outside the facility. Hindi po biro ang malusutan tayo ng 61 flights that were able to enter our facilities without the knowledge or prior approval of MIAA. Apparently, meron pong mga airlines na binalewala ang standard aviation protocols which further caused problems in ground handling, parking and gate assignments," she added.

Of the 61 flights, Xiamen Air mounted four recovery flights without clearance from MIAA thereby blatantly ignoring airport procedures and protocols. Xiamen Air was able to get gate assignments over other airlines which had priority slots in NAIA which further caused problems on the ground.

Binay called on agencies under the DOTr to explain the mysterious circumstances surrounding the 61 "uncoordinated" flights that contributed to the airport fiasco.

"It would appear that we are not ready for a worst-case scenario. Sa coordination pa lang eh marami nang naging lapses. The lack of a coherent system on the ground already suggests of an unpleasant situation. What passengers and airlines experienced seriously demands an accountability from everyone handling airport operations. What happened at NAIA was totally unacceptable. We cannot continue to fail," Binay said.

The senator noted that even the Bureau of Immigration (BI) did not have enough personnel to handle diverted recovery flights in Clark International Airport prompting some airlines to return back to their original destinations after more than 10 hours of waiting at the tarmac.

"At kung kailangan mag-augment ng security personnel at dagdagan ang staff ng BI sa Clark at iba pang airports, mas practical yun kaysa paghintayin ang mga pasahero ng 10 hours sa loob ng eroplano," Binay said.

Xiamen Air flight MF8667 skidded off the NAIA's primary runway on August 16 affecting at least 681 domestic and international flights, or about 200 regular flights that inconvenienced more than 136,000 passengers.

The main runway is used to accommodate all types of aircraft, while the secondary runway can only accommodate narrow-body aircraft. The mishap had a domino effect across all four NAIA terminals which caused many flights to be diverted, delayed or cancelled.

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