NAIA runway closed until Aug 18 morning after Xiamen Air plane skids

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – A Chinese passenger plane slid off a Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) runway during heavy downpour late Thursday night, August 16, aviation authorities said.

In a Facebook post early Friday morning, August 17, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which operates NAIA, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued a joint statement confirming the incident involving Xiamen Air flight MF8667.

All 157 passengers and 8 flight crew are safe, according to MIAA. 

"Passengers were evacuated using the aircraft's emergency chute and were brought to NAIA Terminal 1 where they are now being assisted by airline and MIAA personnel. Blankets and food were provided by the airline," the agencies said.

Authorities initially announced the runway would be closed until Friday evening, but later said this would be extended until 5 am Saturday, August 18. Check the list of cancelled or diverted flights here

At past 4 am Friday, investigators from the CAAP Aircraft Accident Investigating Bureau were on site to determine the cause of the accident. Passengers were transported to a nearby hotel where they would stay until airline operations  resumes.

According to the statement, both MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal and CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco were coordinating with airline officials and supervising recovery and clearing operations on site.

In a press conference past 8 am Friday, Monreal told reporters that the investigation into the incident was still ongoing. Sydiongco said the plane's missed approach was caused by the weather. 

"Ang initial feedback doon sa Manila tower ay ito ay sumubok [mag-land] once at hindi pinagpatuloy, and then bumalik ulit, and then doon na sila pagka-landing ay nawalan na ng contact 'yung tower sa kanila," he explained.

(The initial feedback from the Manila tower is that the plane attempted to land once but did not push through with it, then attempted to land a second time, and during that landing, that's when the tower lost contact with the plane.)

Both Monreal and Sydiongco said their priority was to get the aircraft out of the runway.

"A notice to airlines has been issued advising them about the closure [of the runway]. Passengers of affected flights are advised to closely coordinate with their airlines for announcements," MIAA and CAAP's statement read.

Airport and aviation officials said in another press briefing late Friday afternoon they hoped to remove the plane by 7 pm on Friday. The aircraft's landing gear collapsed, posing an additional challenge to the removal of the entire plane.

Authorities apologized for the inconvenience caused by the mishap and assured passengers that runway operations would be resumed as soon as possible. 

Asked about the cost of removing the stalled plane, Monreal said, "What's important to us is to clear the runway as soon as possible and make it safe for flights once we open it."

Flights were cancelled and diverted because of the incident, which prompted the closure of the affected runway.

Monreal said some airlines have applied for recovery flights, which was already being coordinated by MIAA.

Affected passengers may call the following numbers for NAIA flight information:

Rappler.com