Airport’s closure showed negligence
First, we thank the management of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for its firm decision to have the Tacloban City airport runway temporarily closed to big aircraft, like the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737, but open to turbo-propelled planes. (“All flights to Tacloban airport suspended,” Front-Page, 9/2/14). Media reports say that the temporary closure was prompted by complaints from jet pilots servicing the Tacloban airport that the runway was riddled with potholes posing clear and imminent danger to inbound passengers.
However, the closure left Philippine Airlines (PAL), with its turbo-propelled aircraft, the only passenger airline servicing the Tacloban City airport from Manila (there used to be four). But since then, PAL’s airfare for the Tacloban-Manila-Tacloban route has more than doubled. Worse, people from Leyte, Samar, and Biliran, who are in a hurry to go to Manila but cannot get a Tacloban-Manila booking, owing to the smaller capacity of PAL’s turbo-propelled planes, are forced to take the longer and much expensive route via Cebu. The higher fare expenses, the result of the CAAP’s sudden decision, is just one of the many adverse economic effects of the Tacloban airport’s temporary closure.
One of the things that disturb us is that the closure is obviously the result of the lack of planning on the part of the CAAP, which explains the sudden closure that, according to the CAAP (as reported by media), was prompted by the pilots’ complaints.
No other reason for the sudden closure was given by the CAAP management. We would have expected that the decision to temporarily close the airport was based on a reliable report/recommendation by a CAAP-commissioned team, issued/given after a technical or engineering evaluation and audit of the condition of the runway conducted after Supertyphoon “Yolanda”; and that the closure was recommended as imperative for the necessary repair of the runway. The absence of such media reports leads us to believe no technical and engineering evaluation and audit report was conducted or commissioned by the CAAP.
We can thus be looking at a clear dereliction of duty on the part of the management of the CAAP; and the Department of Transportation and Communications, which oversees the CAAP’s operations, should immediately look into this in the interest of the public, to avoid such oversights in the future.
Thanks to the airline pilots who brought to the attention of CAAP authorities the dangerous condition of the Tacloban airport runway.
—PETE L. ILAGAN, president,
National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc.
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