NAIA hit by brownout anew

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) suffered yet another power outage on Friday, June 9, the third time this has happened in six months.

Passengers wait in long queues after a power outage hits Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on June 9, 2023. (Courtesy of Ariel Fernandez / MANILA BULLETIN)

The brownout was reported at NAIA Terminal 3 around 12:15 p.m., according to Department of Transportation (DOTr) spokesperson Jonathan Gesmundo.

Airport authorities used a generator and were able to bring back power supply at 12:30 p.m., according to Gesmundo. At 1:29 p.m., power was officially restored.

Despite this, air conditioning units have not yet been operational as of this posting.

“Per MIAA [Manila International Airport Authority], aircon has been rebooted. Expecting full power within the hour,” Gesmundo noted.

The MIAA has yet to determine the cause of the power outage that has temporarily paralyzed the operations of NAIA. 

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) was also verifying the number of affected flights.

Meanwhile, many passengers expressed dismay over the incident.

On Twitter, a video clip was posted by a certain Ivy showing a long queue of passengers at NAIA Terminal 3: “Brownout at NAIA Terminal 3. Akala ko dati kwento kwento lang ito. Totoo palang nangyayari. Kunwari [shocked]. Only in the [Philippines]. Worst airport talaga (I thought it was mere stories. But it really happens. I’m pretending to be shocked. Only in the Philippines. This is really the worst airport).” 

Meanwhile, one Charmie Santos described her experience as “too ugly.”

“NAIA. Terminal 3. Brownout. Flight halted. Change of gate. Napakachaka [This is too ugly],” she said.

This has been the third time that a power outage was experienced in the country’s primary airport this year.

On New Year’s Day, January 1, the country’s airspace was shut down when the Philippine air traffic management center (ATMC) was hit by a power outage due to the malfunctioning of its equipment. The incident affected nearly 300 flights and around 65,000 passengers. 

The malfunction was traced to a power surge that damaged equipment at the ATMC, a facility that houses the Communications, Navigations, Surveillance / Air Traffic Management System (CNS/ATMS) which manages and supervises all the air traffic activities within the Philippine airspace.

This was followed by a power outage at NAIA Terminal 3 on Labor Day, May 1, which affected around 50 flights and 9,000 passengers.

Following these incidents, the country’s airspace was shut down for more than an hour on May 17 for a corrective maintenance on the system of the ATMC.

Asia from the incidents recorded this year, another power outage also reportedly occurred at NAIA Terminal 3 in September 2022.

According to government-operated Philippine News Agency (PNA), the incident disrupted airport operations for several hours which resulted to manual check-in and loading of baggage, and longer processing at immigration counters. There were also at least 31 flights that had been affected by the outage.

To address the issues hounding NAIA, the airport’s modernization was considered as among the priorities of the DOTr under the administration of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., according to Transport Sec. Jaime Bautista.

The DOTr had said that more than P13 billion is needed to upgrade the air traffic management system and finally put an end to the recurring problem on power supply at NAIA.

Last week, the DOTr and MIAA submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) a joint proposal to modernize NAIA through a public private partnership (PPP) project.