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MANILA, Philippines – Filipino tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, whose business portfolio includes telecommunication giants PLDT and Smart, on Monday, January 2, offered the government help in creating “redundancies” for air transportation systems, following “technical issues” that shut down all air travel in the Philippines for several hours on New Year’s Day.
“If our Group could be of any help to DOTr/CAAP [Department of Transportation]/[Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines], we’d be happy to participate – colocation of 2nd, even 3rd, redundancies in our nationwide data centers, required connectivities – fiber, satellite, wireless – robust, even redundant power supply protection etc.,” said Pangilinan on his official Twitter page.
Pangilinan was one of over 65,000 passengers whose flights to or from Manila were either severely delayed or canceled following a glitch in the NAIA air traffic management system.
The day prior, on January 1, in a reply to PLDT Home’s tweet about mental health, Panglinan said: “We’re told radar and navigation facilities at NAIA down. I was on my way home from Tokyo – 3 hours into the flight, but had to return to Haneda. 6 hours of useless flying but inconvenience to travelers and losses to tourism and business are horrendous. Only in the PH. Sigh.”
Hours later, Pangilinan said he got home at 11 pm, hours after his first tweet. He also thanked transportation chief Jaime Bautista and CAAP for their “effort.”
CAAP said the problem at the Philippine Air Traffic Management Center, which manages all flights over Philippine airspace – was first detected at 9:49 am on Sunday, January 1. On New Year’s Day, thousands of Filipinos were also set to travel around the Philippines since it was the second to the last day of the holiday break. January 2 is a special non-working day.
Bautista would later tell media that the Philippine Air Traffic Management Center went down at 9:49 am after both the main and backup power supply went offline. When they did get power back, a surge destroyed equipment including the Very Small Aperture Terminal, which receives communication and navigation data, among others from satellites.
The transport chief said the Philippines was about a decade behind nearby Singapore in terms of its current air systems. An upgrade, said Bautista, will cost over P13 billion.
The Senate public services committee will hold an inquiry into the NAIA air traffic system glitch once normal airport operations are restored. – Rappler.com