Power outage hits NAIA Terminal 3

Michael Bueza
Power outage hits NAIA Terminal 3
(6th UPDATE) Operations at the terminal are affected by the blackout as departures and arrivals are also said to be on hold. Passengers with delayed flights are advised to call their airlines immediately for options.

MANILA, Philippines (6th UPDATE) – Power went out at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on Saturday evening, April 2.

Some netizens posted photos and video of the power outage on Twitter.

As of 2 am, Sunday, Rappler sports editor Ryan Songalia who was traveling out via Terminal 3 observed “massive lines” outside, with power still unrestored.

The Twitter account of NAIA replied to some of the earlier tweets, confirming that there was indeed no power at Terminal 3. It then said that NAIA is “currently assessing the situation to have the power back on.”

In a phone interview, an airport operations staff who requested anonymity told Rappler that the blackout started at around 8:45 pm.

He said that the system is “down” at the terminal, affecting operations at the departure area. However, he added that operations at the arrival area still continue.

Just before 11 pm, however, netizens onboard some of the planes tweeted and quoted pilots as saying all arrivals and departures were on hold.

The airport staff also said that NAIA is trying to determine the cause of the power outage.

An April 1 notice by Meralco said that maintenance schedules from 11:30 pm of April 2 until 4:30 am of April 3 would affect a “portion of NAIA Road from Domestic Road to near Electrical Road in Pasay City.” The reason cited was the “relocation of facilities affected by the construction of NAIA Expressway project along NAIA Road in Pasay City.”

It was not clear if the power outage at Terminal 3 was related to this.

Shortly before midnight, a pilot of a Cebu Pacific plane that landed at about 10:50 pm from Bacolod announced to passengers that departure planes were not allowed to leave and that all terminal bays were occupied.

Rappler’s Mara Mercado who is on board that plane reported that a stewardess announced to them, “We have lost communication with our wrap control. No one can assign us to our proper bay assignment.”

Passengers have not been able to disembark from planes despite having landed hours ago. As of 12:30 am, Mercado reported, “The planes are being manually towed to any free terminal bay.”

Ariel Arcilla of the Media Affairs office told Rappler, “Passengers/planes now being directed to Terminal 4 for offboarding.”

Asking for patience

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Spokesperson David de Castro told Rappler at about 12:38 am they were “continuously assessing the situation” and that a team from MIAA and Meralco has been checking the airport’s power room. 

They have been working on partial energy using a mix of power sourced from generators and Meralco, he said. This has, however, been unable to sustain entire operations.

The power outage created a domino effect as it caused one generator to malfunction, De Castro explained, clarifying, however, that it was not the main cause of the outage.

He advised passengers with delayed flights to call their airlines immediately for options. As of 1 am, no flights were flying out of Terminal 3. Arriving passengers, according to De Castro, have started to be deplaned in other available terminals, including Terminal 3 itself.

He added they are working to restore power. He apologized and asked for “patience” from passengers who have not been allowed to deplane.

At past 2 am, De Castro reported that power had been restored

Track record

The power outage is yet another addition to the string of inconveniences at NAIA Terminal 3. In January, part of the ceiling at the same terminal collapsed, slightly injuring a foreign passenger.

Terminal 3 opened in 2008 after an extended legal battle between the government and the Filipino-German consortium that built it. Terminal 3 has not suffered any major incidents since it underwent a major rehabilitation in 2013-14.

Prior to the incident that involved the collapsed ceiling last January, passengers had complained about leaks, collapsed floors, malfunctioning equipment, congestion, dilapidated facilities, and rude or corrupt personnel.

All these combined earned for Manila a reputation that pushed it to the top of the list of the world’s worst airports compiled by the travel website “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports” from 2011-13. It got off the list after congestion problems were eased by more passengers passing through Terminal 3. – Rappler.com

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.