Tugade says NAIA runway incident an 'eye opener'

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Saturday, August 18, that the temporary closure of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) runway due to a plane mishap  was an “eye-opener” for airport authorities.

“This incident served as an eye-opener – a reminder for us to take a second look at the processes, procedures, and protocols of concerned agencies, as well as airlines, so that we may all improve in the future,” Tugade said in a statement shortly after the NAIA runway was reopened after a 36-hour closure.

He called the incident, which caused canceled and diverted flights, as a “regrettable experience, which is not of our own liking, nor of our own making.”

“I am sorry. We did our very best to address the situation,” Tugade said.

The Cabinet official also lauded the dedication of various government agencies in handling the incident, as well as others who assisted, including the private sector, volunteers, and other airports, such as Clark and Subic.

On Thursday night, August 16, a Xiamen Air plane skidded on the NAIA runway because of heavy rains. Airport officials shut down the runway to remove the plane, which finally happened early Saturday morning, August 18.

Authorities had difficulty removing the plane because of continued heavy rains that softened the soil around the aircraft. The runway was finally reopened past 11 am on Saturday.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesman Eric Apolonio said on Saturday that 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. – With a report from Agence-France Presse / Rappler.com