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The Philippines will briefly shut its airspace later this month in a bid to tackle recent airport outages

The Philippines will briefly shut its airspace later this month in a bid to tackle recent airport outages

The tourism slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” entices visitors from all over the world to enjoy the nation’s stunning beaches and lush highlands.

But getting there isn’t always easy, as anyone who was unfortunate enough to be at Manila’s airport during this year’s two devastating power outages discovered.

Tens of thousands of travellers were affected by hundreds of flight cancellations as a result of those disruptions, which occurred on Labour Day and New Year’s Day.

The Philippines will shut down the whole nation’s airspace on May 17 for six hours in an effort to address that problem in order to repair broken electrical equipment.

Bryan Co, senior assistant general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, stated at a news conference on Tuesday that “the entire Philippine airspace will be shut down.”

It will take place between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time, which is typically a time of less flight travel, to replace the uninterruptible power supply for the air traffic management centre.

Airlines were urged by Co to modify their flight itineraries and provide early-warning information to customers on alternate plans in case its airspace went black.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in Manila, which was built 75 years ago and serves as the nation’s primary international entry point, has been unable to handle the influx of travellers since flights restarted following the lifting of the pandemic restrictions.

48 domestic flights operated by Cebu Pacific were cancelled on May 1 due to a nearly nine-hour outage at Terminal 3 of the airport during the Labour Day long weekend vacation.

According to recordings from CNN affiliate CNN Philippines, groups of disgruntled travellers queuing up at the Cebu Pacific counter heckled personnel since the details of the flight arrangements weren’t made clear.

Following the incident, a thorough electrical analysis is being carried out, and an audit that will determine which updates should be given priority may take up to 90 days, according to the airport authority.

The group of six conglomerates said in a statement on Thursday that just days before the chaos, the newly formed Manila International Airport Consortium (MIAC) had submitted plans to the national government outlining a number of improvements at the country’s busiest airport with an aim to double annual passenger capacity to 62.5 million by 2028.

Despite being built to accommodate 31.5 million people, the airport handled 48 million passengers in 2019, according to the statement. The estimated cost of the renovation is $1.8 billion (100 billion Philippine pesos).

Upgrades were long needed, especially after the massive power outages that disrupted air traffic control at the country’s busiest airport on New Year’s Day this year, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded in the Southeast Asian hub. At least 56,000 people were impacted by the over 300 flights that were either delayed, cancelled, or diverted to other regional airports.

During the busy year-end travel season, when many foreign tourists and overseas residents fly into the country from abroad to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, the Philippine government opened an official investigation into what caused a severe outage on New Year’s Day.


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