Philippines’ air traffic recovering following ATC outage

Following an abrupt stop to all air traffic in Philippines due to a power outage at ATC, the country's traffic is resuming.
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Following a power outage at one of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers in the Philippines on the first day of 2023, air traffic is recovering in the country and its main international airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL).

“At around 9:49 AM local time [GMT +8 – ed. note], the Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC) which serves as the facility for controlling and overseeing all inbound and outbound flights and overflights within the Philippine airspace, went down due to power outage, resulting in loss of communication, radio, radar, and internet,” said Jaime Bautista, the Secretary of the Philippine Department of Transportation (DOTr), in a statement late on January 1, 2023. 

At one point in time, there were zero airborne flights above the Philippines, according to flightradar24.com. 

“The primary cause identified was a problem with the power supply and the degraded uninterrupted power supply which had no link to the commercial power and had to be connected to the latter manually,” elaborated Bautista. Additionally, the outage was followed by a power surge which affected the ATC equipment. At 4:00 PM local time (GMT +8), the ATMC resumed partial operations and an hour and 50 minutes later, the center resumed full operations while equipment was still being worked on. 

72 hours to normalize flight operations 

While the power outage and subsequent technical issues lasted several hours, airlines will have to normalize their operations, which could take up to 72 hours, according to local authorities. 

“[Ninoy Aquino International Airport is] not really fully (operational). Prior to yesterday, we accepted about 20 arrivals per hour. Right now, we are only accepting 15 arrivals per hour but there are no limits on the departures,” local media cited Cesar Chiong, the General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) that runs MNL, as saying.  

Per Chiong, the authority’s previous experience with a typhoon allowed it to provide an estimate of when airlines will fully normalize their operations at MNL. 

“Based on our experience in the last typhoon it will take about 72 hours for the airlines to normalize their operations, that is the estimate.” 

Per flightradar24.com, only 5% of flights were canceled from or to Philippine airports. 

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