NAIA Runway Reopens; 3 Flights Affected

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Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) runway 06/24 reopened for operation before 5 a.m. on Monday, following the temporary closure to conduct investigation involving a medical evacuation (medevac) plane that burst into flames during takeoff Sunday night.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) authorities confirmed there were three flights affected during the temporary closure — a Korean Air flight which was supposed to land NAIA at around 10 p.m. Sunday and was diverted to Clark, and two Hong Kong Airlines flight that were re-scheduled to arrive and depart Manila later in the afternoon.

In a press conference late Sunday, MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said the management has to wait until the team from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) finish their investigation, and for the SOCO to retrieve the bodies of all the eight passengers who perished from the accident before they could reopen the runway.

“CAAP will have to look for some debris, and get all the evidence. We need to make sure all is clear before we open the runway. We are also waiting for the SOCO to retrieve the bodies which are still inside the aircraft,” Monreal said.

Monreal said there were only seven airlines scheduled to arrive and depart from NAIA on Sunday, thus only one airline was affected in the evening. Meanwhile, there are 14 flights scheduled to arrive and depart the country’s main gateway on Monday.

The medevac plane bound for Haneda, Japan exploded while taking off at NAIA around 8 p.m. on Sunday. Monreal said the plane was carrying six Filipino crew, and two foreign nationals as passengers.

CAAP deputy director general Don Mendoza said they are trying to find if the aircraft has a flight recorder.

The medevac plane was in Iloilo on Saturday to deliver medical supplies, and safely returned to Manila, he said.

On Sunday, however, reports from the Manila Tower indicated that the aircraft was encountering difficulty.

“(Those from the Manila Tower) noticed that based on the size of the aircraft, it took some time for it to take off,” Mendoza said. (PNA)