Airlines warn of delays, cancellations due to technical issues

Major Philippine airlines warned of significant flight delays and cancellations Monday after a technical problem hit the air traffic management system used to direct planes in the Manila area.

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines all issued advisories saying the software glitch at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ Air Traffic Management Center was affecting departures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

As of early afternoon, no flights had taken off from the Manila airport for several hours as the aviation authorities worked to resolve the problem. Airlines told passengers to check their flight status before going to the airport.

“The safety and well-being of our guests remain our top priority,” said Steve Dailisan, head of communications and public affairs for AirAsia Philippines. He said the budget airline was coordinating with airport authorities.

In a notice to passengers, Philippine Airlines said a “number of flights” would face delays or cancellations due to the system disruption. The carrier offered to rebook affected passengers on other flights or provide refunds.

Cebu Pacific likewise warned of delays affecting Manila flights and said it would provide updates as more information became available from authorities.

The airlines did not provide detailed numbers on how many flights and passengers were being impacted. Manila’s main airport is one of the busiest hubs in Asia.

The Air Traffic Management Center uses radars and other systems to safely monitor and guide aircraft movements across Philippine airspace.

In an advisory, CAAP stated: “During the regular monitoring today at the Air Traffic Management Center, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines identified a potential problem with the software of ATMC center. To ensure safety of the flying public, CAAP decided to be conservative and control the operations by providing longer separation of departing flights.”

Technical glitches occasionally force airports around the world to delay or ground flights as a precaution. The complexity of the problems can range widely based on the facility affected and repair time needed.

A similar though more prolonged systems failure at the same Manila air traffic facility in January 2023 prompted legislative hearings about contingency plans.

Dirk Andrei Salcedo Avatar

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