NAIA runway closure asked to be extended anew til Aug. 18

MANILA — The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has again requested the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to extend again its Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), declaring the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) international runway’s closure until Saturday.

Due to heavy rains, Xiamen Air flight MF8667 skidded off at NAIA at about 11:55 p.m. Thursday, causing the closure of the airport’s runway 06/24.

“They (clearing operations team) are having a hard time forcibly extracting the aircraft (from the runway),” CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Noting that the soil on runway 06/24 is very soft, he said, “It would be very dangerous to forcibly extract the aircraft there because it might damage the runway.”

Apolonio noted that the 5 a.m. extension was the fourth NOTAM from CAAP within the day.

CAAP first issued the NOTAM at 1 a.m., declaring runway closure until 12 noon. However, at 8 a.m., it extended the NOTAM to 4 p.m., as investigators realized the team could not make it by 12 noon.

Apolonio earlier explained that CAAP investigators have not seen the site yet to assess the situation when it issued the NOTAM at 1 a.m.

“We need to park (the aircraft) to the remote parking bay. The clearing operations team needs to remove the aircraft and the debris,” he said.

At about 2:20 p.m., Apolonio told PNA that MIAA has requested to extend the NOTAM to 7 p.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, thousands of passengers have been affected by the incident, as many flights were either cancelled or were diverted to Clark.

International flights using aircraft type A320 and below can use NAIA’s domestic runway. Many carriers, however, are using bigger aircraft, such as the A350 and the B777.

Apolonio explained that extending the NOTAM also aims to avoid air traffic congestion.

“Because if we will not tell the airlines that the runway will still be closed at noon, they will go here by that time and all of them will be diverted,” he said. Ma. Cristina Arayata/ Photo courtesy of Raoul C. Esperas