After New Year’s Day airport shitshow, lawmakers vow an investigation

Philippine lawmakers have vowed to investigate the New Year’s Day fiasco at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), after a widespread airspace outage led to 282 inbound and outbound flights being canceled and some 60,000 passengers stranded.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) attributed the mess to “power supply issues” that cut out the airport’s control tower’s connection.

Senator Grace Poe said in a statement that the Senate would launch an investigation into the fiasco with NAIA’s air traffic control system, which CAAP said was first acquired in 2010 but was only implemented in 2018.

“Give them time to restore normal flight operations. After which, we will conduct an inquiry and direct them to submit a full report of what caused the supposed glitch and power outage,” Poe said.

On social media, stories about planes turning back to their country of origin after the Manila airport’s tower could not be contacted, as well as flyers waiting in terminals and on the tarmac for hours before being asked to offboard, flooded news feeds.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros also said she wanted to investigate the private contractor in charge of the air traffic control system.

“It is imperative to also probe who the private contractor of the CNS/ATM is, whether there was a violation of the performance guarantee as may possibly be seen through an examination of documents from the Commission on Audit in the past years, and investigate the brewing allegations of funding delays and possible corruption in the establishment of the CNS/ATM system, as well as the long interval between the initial negotiations in February 2010 and the inauguration in 2018, and how it may have impacted on air control operations,” her Senate resolution read.