MANILA, Philippines – For over 4 days, the Philippines’ main airport was paralyzed due to the Xiamen Air mishap.
Hundreds of flights were canceled, dozens of flights were diverted, and thousands of passengers were stranded. (READ: What to do when your flight gets canceled)
Here’s a rundown of what has happened.
Thursday, August 16
Xiamen Air Flight MF8667 skids off the main runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) during landing. The pilot blames the “sudden” heavy downpour as they were landing.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) says the aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, hit several runway lights. Its tire from the nose landing gear got separated, followed by the main landing gear, then the left engine.
All 157 passengers and 8 flight crew are declared safe.
NAIA international runway 06/24 is closed following the accident.
Friday, August 17
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) informs the public about the accident through a Facebook post.
In a press briefing, airport authorities say the runway will be closed until noon, to give way to the extraction of the aircraft and to clear the runway of debris.
The MIAA lifts the tail-end of the aircraft to offload baggage.
The closure is extended to 4 pm the same day.
Passengers flock to NAIA even as airlines are forced to cancel flights.
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) express fear they might lose their jobs if they don’t reach their destinations on time.
Airport authorities hold another press briefing, saying that the runway closure is extended to 7 pm.
It is announced that the runway will be closed further until 5 am on Saturday, August 18. Airlines continue to cancel flights.
Airport officials explain that lifting the aircraft using 500-ton telescopic boom cranes would take 3 hours to mobilize and another 3 hours to demobilize. The Xiamen Air plane also contains 4 tons of highly combustible jet fuel.
A total of 135 flights are canceled while 17 are diverted on Friday.
Saturday, August 18
The Xiamen Air plane is lifted using telescopic boom cranes. Officials say the muddy terrain and the weather condition added to the struggle of removing the aircraft.
The MIAA gives a “final extension” for the runway closure to Saturday noon.
Airport officials say the plane will be transported to the Balabag Ramp.
The plane is removed from runway 06/24 and brought to the Balabag Ramp.
Around 36 hours after the accident, the runway is reopened for flight operations.
But airlines continue to cancel flights due to the domino effect brought by numerous cancellations in the past days. NAIA remains crowded with stranded passengers. (LOOK: Crowded NAIA after runway reopening)
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade apologizes to the public and describes the accident as an “eye-opener.”
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, says a probe will be conducted.
Sunday, August 19
Flight cancellations continue. More passengers arrive at NAIA to wait for their flights or rebook.
Monday, August 20
Airport officials meet with Xiamen Air. MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal says they demanded an apology and asked the Chinese airline to provide refreshments for stranded passengers.
Monreal also gives Xiamen Air an idea of how much it would have to pay for the accident. Based on the initial computation, extraction of the plane amounts to at least P15 million, excluding costs resulting from flight cancellations and diversions.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines says the pilot and co-pilot are being interviewed as part of the investigation. Both test negative for drugs. They also took alcohol tests, but the results have yet to be released.
Monreal clarifies that Xiamen Air was responsible for removing the disabled aircraft from the NAIA runway. The Philippine government only took over, he says, because waiting for Xiamen Air “might take a week.”
Monreal also says 631 flights were canceled from Friday to Monday.
At the House of Representatives, the committee on transportation schedules an inquiry into the mishap.
Xiamen Air apologizes to the Filipino public on the 4th day since the accident.
The Department of Foreign Affairs instructs Philippine embassies to issue certifications to OFWs, who would have to explain their delayed arrival to foreign employers.
Tuesday, August 21
The MIAA says flight operations have returned to normal, with only Terminal 1 experiencing light congestion in terms of passenger traffic.
Monreal also says he will not step down from his post, despite calls for him to resign over the handling of the Xiamen Air mishap. – Rappler.com