MCIA resumes 24/7 operations; probe on accident still ongoing

THE Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) has resumed full operations four days after it temporarily shut down following the incident involving a Korean Air plane that overshot the runway on Oct. 23, 2022.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Julius “Jayjay” Neri Jr., however, told SunStar Cebu on Friday, October 28, that the aircraft has yet to be removed from the end of the runway due to heavy rains brought by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (Nalgae).

“We have to make sure it’s moved safely. We can’t just carelessly move it because it might explode,” Neri said. He added, though, that it does not matter anymore since they have been operating 24/7 since Thursday night, Oct. 27.

He said investigation on the incident is still ongoing and it will take time to gather evidence and release the results.

Neri said in order to better manage a similar situation in the future, the MCIAA will need to procure a disabled aircraft recovery equipment.

What the MCIAA has is an old model that is no longer operational.

He said they plan to borrow equipment from the Manila International Airport Authority to move the Korean Air plane.

Neri said they were supposed to buy a new aircraft recovery equipment, which costs around P400 million to P500 million, but when the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic hit, the budget intended for it was reverted to the coffers of the National Government.

As for the damage to airport facilities, Neri said repair costs will be charged to Korean Air, including the damaged lights, but only after the aircraft is moved.

Several flights were canceled after the incident as MCIA’s operations were halted for a day before it partially resumed from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The MCIAA had to open only a 2.7-kilometer stretch of the runway, instead of 3.3 kilometers, just so it could resume operations.

Neri said he was proud of the MCIA team for immediately addressing the matter.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of our team that we achieved it. This is one example of resiliency of the Cebuanos and the Filipinos in general,” he added.

The aircraft was carrying 173 individuals, 162 of whom were passengers and 11 crew members.

Neri said the accident was also a lesson for them and for MCIA’s passengers to be ready for anything.

He said MCIA personnel will have to make sure that they can mobilize and react very fast when a similar incident happens.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia also thanked the airport management for making MCIA fully operational.

She also called out those who were quick to criticize the MCIAA on social media after numerous international and domestic flights were cancelled as a result of the runway closure.

“But of course suddenly, everybody became an expert on what to do with the airport. You don’t do that as a knee-jerk reaction. Let me assure you, as part of the authority since I sit there, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, (with) a second runway in the pipeline, certainly we would wish to develop other airports, but to develop an international airport of that caliber, you don’t achieve that by just commenting on Facebook,” said Garcia.

Instead of ranting on social media, the governor said netizens should just be grateful that no one died in the incident. (MKG with ANV)