MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Airport authorities finally reopened the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) runway past 11 am on Saturday, August 18, following the removal of a Chinese passenger plane that skidded on the runway earlier this week.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) announced the reopening of the NAIA runway nearly two days after a Xiamen Air plane skidded on NAIA international runway 06/24 on Thursday night, August 16.
The MIAA had a 12 noon "final extension" of the NAIA runway closure on Saturday. The plane had been removed early Saturday morning, but the runway still had to be cleared of debris and other foreign objects for safety reasons.
MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal apologized to passengers inconvenienced by the temporary runway closure. (READ: Canceled flights over NAIA runway mishap, August 18)
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesman Eric Apolonio said investigators had recovered the plane's black box and flight data recorder and would be summoning the pilots next week to find the cause of the mishap.
The airport will schedule special flights after midnight to make up for some of the flights that were cancelled earlier, Conni Bungag, airport media officer, told Agence France-Presse.
Authorities earlier announced that airport operations would resume on Friday, August 17 at 12 noon. But this was later moved to 4 pm, then 7 pm, and then 5 am on Saturday, and finally, noon.
Airport authorities had difficulty removing the plane since soil in the area where the plane landed was softened by the rain, posing a challenge on its retrieval.
A total of 169 flights were canceled in all 4 terminals on Friday and Saturday, while 17 were diverted to Clark, Cebu, Bangkok in Thailand, and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Due to the flight cancelations, thousands of passengers were stranded in various airports across the country. – With a report from Agence-France Presse / Rappler.com