MANILA, Jan 2 – The Philippines’ main airport remained in reduced traffic on Monday after a New Year’s electricity blackout rocked air traffic control as authorities scrambled to restore full service after more than 300 flights were grounded.
The ageing Ninoy Aquino International Airport handled a maximum of 15 arrivals per hour on Monday, compared to 20 during normal operations, said Cesar Chiong, director general of the Manila International Airport Authority.
The outage was the result of an unprecedented failure of both the primary and secondary power supplies, he said.
“It will take about 72 hours for the airlines to normalize their operations,” Chiong told ANC news channel.
On Sunday, 361 flights were either delayed, canceled or diverted to other regional airports, affecting about 65,000 passengers, while a number of other flights were forced to divert to avoid Philippine airspace.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines ( PHL.UL ) ( PAL.PS ) said it was operating rescue flights from the United States, Singapore and Malaysia and diverting some flights to domestic airports. Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific ( CEB.PS ) canceled 54 domestic flights on Monday.
Chiong said the airport installed its own power system in 2018, but both the main and backup systems failed on Sunday.
When they connected directly to regular commercial electricity, they experienced surges and surges, he added, causing equipment including radar, communications, radio and internet to fail.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport was previously ranked among the world’s worst international gateways, with flight delays occurring regularly and a history of upgrades being delayed or abandoned due to disputes between the airport and contractors.
The Philippines hopes to relieve the pressure by building multibillion-dollar airports in Manila’s surrounding provinces, including Cavite, as well as Bulacan, which are slated to begin operations in 2027.