Power outage at Manila airport leaves thousands stranded

Long queues forming outside Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 3. Entrances were closed until power was restored.
Long queues forming outside Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 3. Entrances were closed until power was restored.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANILA • A rare power outage plunged a major section of the Philippine capital's main airport into darkness overnight, forcing flight cancellations that stranded thousands yesterday.

As many as 80 flights by the country's largest carrier, Cebu Pacific, were cancelled, affecting nearly 14,000 passengers, the company said in a statement.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines also said some 62 of its flights were delayed and four cancelled, according to the Manila Bulletin.

The blackout hit Terminal 3, which services mostly domestic flights, late last Saturday and power was not fully restored until 2am yesterday.

Exhausted passengers sprawled on the floor as check-in counters and luggage carousels shut down. Long queues formed outside the terminal as entrances were closed until power was restored.

Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, named after the assassinated father of incumbent President Benigno Aquino, handles an average of 350 domestic and international flights daily, according to data from the Transportation Ministry. It is one of four terminals in a complex that was once dubbed by travel website Guide to Sleeping in Airports as the world's worst due to leaking toilets and creaking facilities.

"We are looking into the root cause of this problem," Terminal 3 general manager Octavio Lina told DZMM radio.

Manila power retailer Meralco said a transmission line tripped briefly but was restored in minutes, suggesting that the problem could be with the airport's systems.

The four Manila airport terminals were designed for 17 million passengers annually, but overuse has made the airport notorious for flight delays.

Plans to build a new airport outside Manila have not materialised under Mr Aquino.

An excruciatingly slow infrastructure overhaul has also led to chronic commuter train breakdowns and traffic jams.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2016, with the headline 'Power outage at Manila airport leaves thousands stranded'. Print Edition | Subscribe