For false alarm in Manila, Saudi Airlines in hot water

Security personnel standing under a Saudia plane after the pilot mistakenly triggered a hijacking alarm, in Manila airport on Sept 20, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Airport authorities are looking into possible penalties to be imposed on Saudi Airlines (Saudia) following Tuesday's (Sept 20) hijacking false alarm at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

Both the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) are evaluating possible penalties for the false alarm that sent Naia emergency and security forces scrambling to respond.

Caap officer-in-charge Jim Sydiongco said his agency is still investigating Tuesday's incident.

According to the Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup), the two pilots of the Manila-bound Saudia flight, which was carrying some 400 pilgrims from Mecca, intended to send distress signal 7600 to the Manila control tower because there was "no communication", but mistakenly pressed 7500, which meant there was a hijacking in progress, to air traffic controllers.

"The licences of the pilots are issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so it is up to them to come up with sanctions. Our jurisdiction is over the airline which operates in the Philippines. So whatever are the findings, be it sanctions or fines, we still do not know," he said.

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal told the Inquirer the agency is evaluating whether or not penalties may be imposed on Saudia.

Mr Sydiongco said they are also investigating whether or not Saudia could be held accountable for acts of unlawful interference under aviation safety rules.

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