Removing plane was Xiamen Air's responsibility – MIAA

MANILA, Philippines – Airport officials on Monday, August 20, said it was the responsibility of Chinese airline Xiamen Air to remove its plane from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) runway.

In a press briefing, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal explained that the government only came in to "hasten" the aircraft extraction operation.

"If I may quote, Airport Services Manual Part 5 Section 1.9.7, 'The registered owner or aircraft operator retains complete responsibility for the removal,'" Monreal said.

"If the aircraft operator fails to take responsibility for removal operations, the aircraft operator may contract the removal of the aircraft to a 3rd party. That's where we entered. If we wait for [Xiamen], it might take a week," he added.

Xiamen Air Flight MF8667 skidded off NAIA international runway 06/24 late Thursday night, August 16, amid a heavy downpour.

The recovery operation took around 36 hours, causing flight cancellations and leaving thousands of passengers stranded(READ: What to do when your flight gets canceled)

Challenges: Responding to criticism that the recovery operation "paralyzed" NAIA, Monreal said they only did what they could given the situation.

"In terms of retrieval, we will always do the best for them. But we want it to be secure and safe. The aircraft contains jet fuel, and we know it's highly combustible," the airport official said.

Lawmakers have expressed disappointment over the "delayed" resumption of flight operations due to the incident. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives will conduct probes.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Jim Sydiongco also explained that mobilization of 200-ton telescopic boom cranes took time given their weight.

"We can't just drag the aircraft along the runway because it would also reduce the usability of the runway. The best way really is to hoist it and bring it somewhere else," Sydiongco said.

Monreal added that the Xiamen Air extraction operation went "above" standards, compared to similar mishaps. (READ: After 3 days, Xiamen Air sorry for plane mishap)

He cited the 1998 FedEx aircraft crash in North Dakota which took "more than 36 hours."

CAAP has yet to complete the investigation into the incident, but Monreal said Xiamen Air officials have been informed that they must pay damages to the Philippine government– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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