“If the flight cancelation was caused by unexpected events or force majeure such as the recent aircraft mishap, passengers should be well attended to and given information every 30 minutes.
The breakdown in operations at the international airport that resulted in a two-day mayhem brought to light the need for managers of the prime gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), who think on their feet.
Calls are now being made for the opening of an alternative international airport to prevent the constant global humiliation caused by the NAIA, yet management failure was to blame for the two-day chaos that inconvenienced thousands.
What happened on Friday and Saturday at the NAIA was a litmus test on the capability of President Rody Duterte’s appointees at the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). The result showed the MIAA officials failed miserably.
MIAA general manager Ed Monreal simply lost control of the situation when the airport reopened after a 36-hour closure to extract a Xiamen Airlines passenger plane which skidded off the runway.
On an ordinary travel period, the airport literally exploded with anxious passengers after they were left to fend for themselves.
Travelers who were off-loaded or those whose flights were canceled or waiting to be diverted to other airports converged with passengers on scheduled flights that resulted in the notoriously inefficient airport to fill up.
Nothing was heard from Monreal while the tumultuous situation was happening.
It took Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to provide the first response to the confusion through an apology that, of course, fell short in appeasing the enraged throng at NAIA.
“I am saddened by the inconveniences and consequences brought about by the incident
Xiamen Air,” Tugade said.
He added the incident served as an “eye-opener” while he reminded authorities, apparently addressed to Monreal, “to take a second look at the processes, procedures and protocols of concerned agencies, as well as airlines, so that we may all improve in the future.”
Airlines should share part of the blame in the complete tumult at the NAIA as the remedial actions of the Philippine Airlines to the situation left much to be desired.
A similar airport chaos was among issues that the Air Passenger Bill of Rights (APBR) sought to address.
“Nothing was heard from Monreal while the tumultuous situation was happening.
The law provided that while airlines are not required to give hotel accommodations to passengers if the flight cancelation was caused by unexpected events or force majeure such as the recent aircraft mishap, passengers should be well attended to and given information every 30 minutes.
Since the delay in some flights took more than three hours or more after the runway was cleared, the apparent question now was if the airlines were at fault.
Under the APBR, delays of at least three hours, whether or not the carrier is at fault, passengers are entitled to refreshments or meals, free phone calls and email and first aid, if necessary.
Refreshment and meals for many during the hours of being stranded at the airport consisted of cheap crackers and mineral water that were not even enough for all.
“Airlines should also rebook their tickets (without additional charge) to the next flight available or within 30 days,” according to the law.
Still, it was the NAIA managers’ responsibility to have kept order while the problem was unfolding.
The airport crisis that happened only exposed the lack of foresight and the failure to adapt by Monreal and his team.
Monreal can only offer that the MIAA “is doing the best that it can” amid the total loss of control at the airport which lasted for nearly a day after its operations reopened.
If what transpired was the “best” that the current team of managers can offer, accusing them of incompetence would not be an understatement.
The services at the NAIA drastically needed an uplift as tourism in the country picks up fast.
The tapping of able managers at the NAIA is imperative while long-term measures are being undertaken to solve the perennial airport mess.
The current managers simply cannot hack it.
Read more Daily Tribune stories at: https://tribune.net.ph/
Follow us on social media