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Manila Airport Fiasco


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Markham

Yesterday's fiasco at Manila's NAIA Airport caused many flights to be cancelled or subject to lengthy delays - and all because they didn't bother to repair the Instrument Landing System which apparently stopped working several weeks ago. Without ILS, incoming aircraft are unable to land in adverse weather conditions when visibility is reduced to less than 500 metres or so. And that's what happened yesterday morning.

 

I was onboard the KLM flight which was scheduled to land at 8.25am after a 12 hour flight from Amsterdam. As we were on final approach, the engines revved-up and we started climb. After a few minutes, the Captain announced that the airport's Instrument Landing System was broken and, because there was a cloud of mist shrouding the airport it was closed "until further notice" and the Captain added that we would be diverted to Clark, 65 kms away.

 

We landed at Clark at 8.30am and the aircraft was parked on a disused stretch of taxiway. We could see a number of other aircraft already parked including a couple of Philippine Airlines planes as well as international flights by Continental, Qatar, China Airlines and Cathay Pacific. As it so happened, my partner was in one of those PAL planes having caught the 6.30am flight from Cebu to meet me in Manila: her flight landed at Clark shortly before 8 o'clock. Our Captain attempted to get clearance to allow us to proceed to Cebu but was told to wait for Manila to re-open, though it wasn't clear when that would be.

 

Eventually - and having taken onboard some badly-needed fuel - we took-off from Clark at 12.30 and landed at Manila at 12.50, having circled the airport a few times waiting for the runway to become free. In fact we were the last international flight to arrive - all the others had arrived a few minutes earlier. So the Immigration Hall was packed as was the Customs Hall and it took well over an hour to get my Passport stamped. In the mean time, my partner and I exchanged text messages and she was still stuck on the PAL plane in Clark.

 

I - or rather, we - were booked on the 1pm PAL flight to Cebu and when I arrived in Terminal 2, I found-out that KLM had rebooked me on the 3pm flight. That flight is served by a 747 and left Manila at 5.25pm with no spare seats as all earlier flights had been cancelled. My partner was less lucky: she eventually arrived in Manila at 2.55pm and PAL rebooked her on the 5.30pm flight which departed at 11.40pm.

 

The Government appears to know about the non-working ILS: the new President made mention of the fact during his inauguration, I'm told. So why did the NAIA management not fix it, prefering to save a few bob. With no ILS, they had no option but to close the airport but this caused undue delays and misery to the travelling public as well as additional costs on the airlines affected.

 

The moral of the story is, avoid travelling to or through Manila.

 

 

 

 

Mark

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Alan S

Wow. That must have really p****** you off.

 

It is ye another incident that is going to get the country negative publicity.

Plus the airlines and international authorities taking a closer look at aviation in the Philippines.

 

And, yet again, we will see loads of excuses and nobody getting the blame.

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JohnFromTexas

I guess we see one of the reasons that their aviation system has been downgraded in the US and europe. It's just insane that they would not get that fixed. If you're short on money, you raise fees, but you don't let it stay nonfunctional. I mean, the weather in manila is always good right? there is never any fog, monsoon rains, or hurricanes there right? :scratch_head:

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Gringo69

F**K me, glad it wasn't me flying in after all that time in flight or I would have been well and truly pissed off...

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samatm

Thats incredible and a horrible travelers tale which reflects poorly on the PI. thank goodness there was no tragedy and that Clark is available for diversion. I hope it doesnt take an Airline disaster to light a fire under the powers that run NAIA. Perhaps if they rename the place NAIAjr it would get the attention it derserves.

 

next question: Was your partner flying from Cebu to meet you in Manila ...just to sit next to you on the Manila - Cebu flight? That seems very romantic ..sorry it didn't work out as planned. Perhaps after the debacle of sitting on the tarmc for hours at clark..just calling it quits and meeting up with her for a romantic dinner in Manila would have made your troubles worthwhile. :lee_popcorn:

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I'm lead to believe that at one point last week when aircraft we're diverted to Clark it filled up pretty quickly and refused to accept a low fuel Mayday flight who had to wait for Manila to open...

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senseless

It is ye another incident that is going to get the country negative publicity.

 

When celebrities go in tvs and magazines (do people still read those?) saying that your country smells like shit, I don't think it can get much worse than that. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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JohnFromTexas

Sadly sounds like that is what it will probably take before someone here does something to fix things.

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SkyMan

Be glad they actually did the right thing in closing it and didn't try to have them land the plane. Sorry to hear about your bad trip though. I hate sitting in the cattle section for any longer than I have to bet. I can imagine you sitting there forever, surrounded by three or four screaming kids.

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Alan S

That article really shows what a fiasco it was/is.

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Markham

next question: Was your partner flying from Cebu to meet you in Manila ...just to sit next to you on the Manila - Cebu flight? That seems very romantic ..sorry it didn't work out as planned. Perhaps after the debacle of sitting on the tarmc for hours at clark..just calling it quits and meeting up with her for a romantic dinner in Manila would have made your troubles worthwhile. :twocents:

Mae wanted to meet me in Manila and, as KLM now operates a "piece" baggage allowance allowing me three items, I was somewhat over-weight for the Manila-Cebu hop. Had we met-up as planned, I wouldn't have had to pay some 30Kgs excess baggage. So for us, it was a treble-whammy - we didn't meet as planned, I bought her round-trip ticket and it cost me as much as that ticket in excess baggage fees.

 

That the "authorities" want to make Clark the international airport was apparently well-known amongst the KLM crew who chatted with us during the four hour wait at Clark. They are, understandably, unhappy as there are no suitable hotels for their lay-over meaning at least a two hour bus ride to Makati at the beginning and end of their duty day - which itself is 14 hours duration. The Clark terminal only has two jetways, neither of provide two accesses to wide-bodied aircraft (one at the front and one at the rear of the plane). NAIA's international terminal on the other hand can take at least 6 wide-bodied aircraft at any one time and all gates were in use on Saturday. If the international airport is moved to Clark, it will undoubtedly make travelling via Clark to Cebu more expensive and more time consuming. The KLM aircrew who spoke with us are hoping the airline will seek to shift its operations to Cebu.

 

 

 

 

Mark

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Markham

News from Philstar.com:

 

NAIA night navigation conks out

 

http://www.philstar....rticleid=585961

 

This wasn't the problem on Saturday morning. It was the Instrument Landing System that wasn't working. Its transmitters are situated at the end of the runway and they send a narrow radio beam at a 15 degree up from and in line with the runway. Aircraft lock-on to this beam and are guided down the 15 degree "glide slope" on to the runway. This allows aircraft to be able to land when there's reduced visibility as there was on Saturday morning.

 

So two key pieces of equipment are not working at NAIA - though most modern aircraft can get around the absence of VOR by employing on-board SatNav.

 

 

 

 

Mark

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Markham

I'm lead to believe that at one point last week when aircraft we're diverted to Clark it filled up pretty quickly and refused to accept a low fuel Mayday flight who had to wait for Manila to open...

 

Our flight was critically-low on fuel when we touched-down at Clark. As the apron in front of the terminal was already full of other diverted aircraft, we were parked on a stretch of disused taxiway where we were refuelled with, apparently, sufficient fuel for another hour's worth of flight.

 

 

 

 

Mark

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