Major airlines have canceled more than 60 domestic and international flights to and from Clark International Airport in Pampanga after Monday’s 6.1 magnitude quake damaged the control tower and the passenger terminal building.
Authorities ordered the temporary closure of the airport facility pending the final assessment and repair of the damage brought about by the temblor.
In its advisory, flag carrier Philippine Airlines canceled 50 domestic flights scheduled on Tuesday, including those to and from Davao, Cebu, Tagbilaran, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa, Caticlan,
Basco, Siargao, Catarman, Antique, Calbayog, Cagayan de Oro, San Vicente, Busuanga, Cauayan and Kalibo.
PAL also canceled the PR-492 flight to Incheon, Korea scheduled on Tuesday and its PR-493 return flight.
On Monday, PAL had canceled three flights to and from Cebu and Davao.
Cebu Pacific Air, on the other hand, announced the cancellation of 13 domestic and international flights scheduled for April 24.
Among those canceled were international flights to and from Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore; and domestic flights to and from Caticlan, Davao, Cebu, and Bohol.
Also canceled Tuesday were flights to and from Macau, Hong Kong, Clark, and Cebu.
Air Asia also canceled some of its flights scheduled Monday and Tuesday.
The airline companies urged the affected passengers to rebook their flights for travel within 30 days from original departure date, free of charge; or get a full refund.
Manila International Airport Authority general manager Eddie Monreal on Tuesday asked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Civil Aeronautics Board to admit flights that cannot yet be accommodated at Clark to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The Clark airport sustained damage primarily to its control tower and old passenger terminal building, which showed collapsed ceilings, structural cracks, and broken glass panes.
No damage was reported, however, to the airport’s runway. The new passenger terminal, which is still under construction, seemed to suffer no damage.
The Transportation department has already ordered CIAC officials to implement emergency procurement for all equipment and facilities needed to repair CRK’s old terminal building.
Seven people suffered minor injuries at the airport and were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. No casualties were reported.
The Clark Development Corp. has offered temporary shelters to affected travelers.
Once the airport’s full assessment is completed, partial operations of
the airport are targeted today (Wednesday) at the earliest, or on Thursday at the latest.
“The good news is that the tower can be operated, there was no substantial damage. There is also no problem as far as the road surface of the airport is concerned,” said CIAC president Jaime Melo.
Melo said passengers who were stranded because of strong quake will be given priority once operations resume.
The clearing operations and repairs inside the departure area and terminal building are already ongoing, he added.
Power has been fully restored in Clark as of 10:30 p.m. Monday, and all roads and bridges have also been assessed and cleared.
Monreal, meanwhile, warned airline companies not to take advantage of last Monday’s earthquake to arbitrarily delay or cancel flights.
Monreal issued the warning on Tuesday following reports that a domestic carrier was canceling outbound and inbound Manila flights.
MIAA issued a statement stating no damage was done to the NAIA runway or taxiway facilities.
Monreal reminded the airlines not to burden passengers with the inconvenience that may result in the disruption of their travel plans.
The MIAA chief assured passengers using the NAIA terminals that it is business as usual and that there should be no cause for alarm after Monday’s earthquake.
The Civil Aeronautics Board reminded all air carriers operating in Clark of their duty to notify passengers of any information and update in connection with their flights in view of Monday’s tremor.
The Bureau of Immigration, meanwhile, said it has enough manpower to service passengers for flights that have been diverted to Manila from Clark.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said he has extended the ban on the filing of vacation leaves by BI personnel assigned at the NAIA, particularly those performing counter duties.
Morente said the move would ensure the uninterrupted delivery of service to the traveling public.
“We received reports that the repairs on the Clark airport are almost completed, so we expect to return to normal operations soon,” he said. With Vito Barcelo, Darwin G. Amojelar and Othel V. Campos