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CAAP probes ZestAir on Kalibo airport accident

AirAsia Zest Airbus A320 (RP-C8997)
in Kalibo International Airport
(PHOTO) AirAsiaPhilippines
(GMA NewsThe Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is investigating the newly rebranded AirAsia Zest after the budget carrier’s plane skidded off the Kalibo International Airport runway which serves as the gateway to world renowned Boracay island.

“CAAP sent already [an] investigation team to determine the cause of the incident,” CAAP said in an e-mailed statement Thursday afternoon.

The Airbus A320 aircraft was bound to Pudong in China carrying 137 passengers and seven crew members, when it slipped out of the runway while preparing for take off around 3:44 pm, according to a notice to airman (NOTAM) issued by CAAP.

The airport was closed because of the incident, and returned to normal operations as of 5:20 p.m., CAAP public information officer Eric Apolonio told GMA News Online in phone interview.

The aircraft was towed out of the runway, he said.

“Automatic ‘yun na under investigation... Grounded ang aircraft and crew for investigation,” he said, adding that ZestAir should be responsible for its stranded passengers.

Flights affected by the airport closure were Seair Flight 7056 from Manila to Kalibo, which was forced to return to Manila at 4 p.m.; Cebu Pacific flight 5J 343; Zest Air Z2 272; AirPhil flight 2P975; and Seair 740 from Clark to Kalibo.

Last August 26, Tiger Airways has also been under investigation after its Singapore-bound plane strayed off the runway while preparing to take off. The Kalibo International Airport was temporarily closed for four hours after the incident.

Also in August, CAAP suspended ZestAir for failing to comply with flight standards. The suspension affected about 7,000 passengers during the four-day grounding of aircraft, and the airline said it incurred about P280 million in losses.

AirAsia Philippines and Zest Airways Inc. of former Ambassador Alfredo Yao entered into a strategic alliance agreement last March 11. The deal called for Philippines’ AirAsia to invest in ZestAir by buying a 49 percent stake in Zest Air. – VS/KBK, GMA News

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