A power failure in the Philippine capital of Manila led to an air traffic control disruption and airspace closure that quickly delayed or grounded flights from both near and far.
Travel Disruption In East Asia After Power Failure In Manila Leads To Airspace Closure
On New Years Day, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in Manila experienced a power failure at approximately 9:49 am. The backup system also failed, plunging the airport’s air traffic control systems into disarray.
Immediately, planes could no longer land or depart, launching a cascade of flight delays that grew to nearly 300 flights, impacting over 56,000 passengers. Soon, there was no air traffic even overflying Philippine Airspace.
At present, there are no flights operating within PH airspace, whether originating to and from PH airports, or overflights by other carriers transiting the area. @inquirerdotnet pic.twitter.com/sO84X3okiU
— Daxim L. Lucas (@daxINQ) January 1, 2023
— Michael Joe Delizo (@michael_delizo) January 1, 2023
By late afternoon, the system was “partially restored” but even this morning there remain lingering delays, and not all distressed passengers have been accommodated.
The cause of the outage is not known, but power at MNL is supplied by private operator Meralco. Philippines’ Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista held a press conference on Sunday night, revealing:
“President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has instructed us to immediately conduct a study. In our Cabinet meetings, we already presented this problem. After what happened today, we need to fast-track the backup system.”
I’m not sure a study is needed at this point…Ninoy Aquino International Airport is one of the worst airports in the world in nearly every way. Manila needs a new airport…
One Live and Let’s Fly reader found himself trapped in Tokyo for an extra 3.5 hours as the problem was sorted. Initial details were scarce (agents blamed a “ground hold”), but he was provided a food voucher and later took off for Singapore once the airspace over the Philippines reopened.
A localized power failure in Manila quickly led to flight disruptions across East Asia. While the power has been restored, the outage is yet another sign that Ninoy Aquino International Airport is in desperate need of an upgrade. This now impacts not only the Philippines but other countries as well that rely upon traversing Philippine airspace.
image: @michael_delizo / Twitter