The scheduled shutdown of Philippine airspace early Wednesday for replacement and repairs has been finalized, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
The CAAP is set to replace the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units at its air traffic management center from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, to avoid a repeat of the New Year’s Day aviation meltdown last January, ABS-CBN News reported.
The CAAP said it has been practicing how to replace the UPS units over the past three days to make sure it would be done within the 2-hour window.
“Starting midnight tonight, everybody will be here,” CAAP Deputy Director General for Operations Captain Edgardo Diaz, quoted by ABS-CBN News, said.
CAAP said shutting down the Philippine airspace was necessary to ensure the safety of all aircraft and passengers flying to and from the country.
UPS units regulate the voltage that enters air traffic management’s load side, and can also supply power to the air traffic system in the event of a power outage. CAAP noted that its UPS units were old and needed replacement.
Diaz said the CAAP’s “UPS is aging, before they malfunction completely, probably approaching its end of life. That is not yet immediate, but we will not go to that extent… We have to replace it before it malfunctions completely.”
The agency said it was confident the replacement works would be finished within the 2-hour window.
But even with the UPS unit replacement, CAAP said this would not eliminate the possibility of another glitch and would only lessen the chances of it happening.
Reports meanwhile said the airspace shutdown may also affect airports outside Metro Manila. CAAP said it has also coordinated with the Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. (LIPAD), and GMR–Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC).
GMCAC, which oversees the country’s second busiest gateway Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), said no flights would be affected by the temporary shutdown from their end.
But LIPAD said that four regional flights at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga might be affected.
Due to the shutdown, AirAsia Philippines “retimed” its flights from Manila to Davao, Taipei, Kota Kinabalu, and Cagayan de Oro on May 16 and 17.
The airline also canceled 6 flights from Manila to Davao, Cebu, and Bacolod scheduled on Wednesday.
AirAsia Philippines spokesperson Steve Dailisan said that those affected by flight disruptions may avail of the airline’s Standard Recovery Options (SROs) such as moving flights, rebooking, credit account, or refund via AskBo on the Airasia Superapp.
Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific said they have no flight adjustments or cancellations related to Wednesday’s temporary airspace closure.