Editorial: Bitter lesson

What happened at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last weekend is a bitter lesson to be learned.

Passengers flying out of the airport saw their schedule cancelled while incoming flights were diverted after the aircraft of Xiamen Air skidded off the runway due to heavy rains, in the process making the runways not usable.

Teams who were tasked to clear the runway failed to immediately move the giant plane out of it as the soil was very soft. In a report of the Philippine News Agency, Eric Apolonio, spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said: “It would be very dangerous to forcibly extract the aircraft there because it might damage the runway.”

It was only on Saturday when the teams were able to bring the aircraft to the Balagbag ramp and that it took another four hours to use the runway as the heavy equipment used in the operation had to be demobilized as well as the debris had to be taken out.

A similar incident also happened at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport (FBIA) in June 2013 when an aircraft of Cebu Pacific with 165 passengers also overshot the runway. In Iloilo in 2017, a similar incident happened.

In all these, both the passengers and other stakeholders had to suffer.

So those behind the operations of airports must consider these incidents in coming up with comprehensive programs designed to prevent similar incidents.

In the case of NAIA, a key solution is to consider the possibility of decongesting it because there is another international airport in Clark that can be used. Improving the land connectivity between Clark and Makati, usually the go-to place especially for those coming to Manila from the provinces, will be key in luring more airlines to use it.

FBIA, on the other hand, like many smaller airports only has a single 3,000-meter runway that when something happens, everything is on a standstill.

In the case of airports like FBIA, which has also become profitable because of the flights that it services, the government can enhance its infrastructure facilities like runway and terminal to make its operations better. This may even pave the way for airlines to consider coming up with new routes as this will help these airports become better in relation to the perception of travelers.

Posted in Opinion