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Duterte inspects NAIA, apologizes for flight delays, vows improvements

PRESIDENT Duterte speaks to some passengers waiting for their flights to find out their concerns while conducting a surprise inspection at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport  Terminal 2 in Pasay City. (Presidential photo)

PRESIDENT Duterte speaks to some passengers waiting for their flights to find out their concerns while conducting a surprise inspection at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in Pasay City. (Presidential photo)

President Duterte has apologized to air passengers over the flight delays at the Manila airport and vowed to craft a “remedy” to improve the airport operations within a month, Malacañang said yesterday.

The President made a surprise inspection of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 early yesterday morning amid concerns about the flight interruptions reportedly caused by bad weather. He met with concerned NAIA and airline officials as well as talked to some passengers during his unannounced airport visit.

“The Chief Executive discussed how flight aberrations could be minimized and what actions could be employed by the government, particularly the Department of Transportation, to solve the problem in the long term,” Malacanang said.  “He then talked to the passengers, apologizing to them on the inconvenience caused by the disruptions. The President vowed to come up with a remedy within a month,” it said.

In his meeting with airport and airline officials, the President asked about the flight delays and cancellations “to know whether there are flight diversions and if affected passengers are given incentives to ease their inconvenience,” Malacanang said.

Duterte also received a briefing on the flight problems and the measures being undertaken “to normalize the situation,” Malacanang added. “After the surprise inspection, the President took a break at one of the food kiosks at the airport,” Malacanang said.

Accompanying the President in the airport visit were Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Capt. Jim Sydiongco, incoming Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, and Davao businessman Sammy Uy.

Several flights have been delayed at the NAIA after airport authorities issued a lightning alert that halted ground movement for two-and-a-half hours. Some flights were reportedly diverted to Clark airport.

Recently, a computer glitch in the Air Traffic Management Center system led to reduced arrival and departing rate of aircraft at NAIA. An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident.

Last April, the President warned that the military might take over NAIA if the current airport operations do not improve. Duterte raised the possibility of tapping the Philippine Air Force to lead the airport operations after citing the same military strategy applied to clean up the corruption-tainted Bureau of Customs.

NAIA, the country’s main international gateway in Manila, has been plagued with congestion and inefficiency problems over the years. While the government moved to decongest the airport and find alternative hubs, the President previously threatened to relieve airport and security personnel if another bullet-planting or “tanim-bala” incident happens at the airport. (Genalyn Kabiling)

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