Philippine airspace will be closed for two hours on Wednesday, 17
May, while the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
replaces its uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit, after it failed
dramatically on 1 January this year and again on 1 May.
According to a local radio interview with CAAP spokesman Eric
Apolonio, the planned shutdown of Philippine airspace will now last from
2am to 4am on 17 May, cut from the six-hour closure that was originally
The UPS system powers the country's air traffic management system and
its shutdown will affect international and domestic flights at Manila's
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Clark International Airport
(CRK), and Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), as well as several
flights at 42 other CAAP commercially operated airports.
The first collapse of the air-traffic management system occurred on
New Year's Day, one of the busiest holiday travel dates in the calendar.
Hundreds of flights had to be cancelled, delayed or diverted, estimates
suggest over 65,000 passengers were affected.
The power cut, known colloquially as a "brownout" resulted in the
sudden loss of communication, radio, radar and internet and was blamed
by CAAP director general Manuel Tamayo on a "faulty signal coming from a
damaged circuit breaker".
This was followed by a more localised power outage at NAIA Terminal 3
on another major holiday May 1, Labour Day from 1:05am to 8:46am, which
affected around 50 flights and 9,000 passengers. The CAAP initiated
some emergency repair work on 3 May that also closed the country's
For the forthcoming planned shutdown, a number of airlines had
already announced passenger travel advisories rescheduling some of their
flights based on the previous six-hour window. AirAsia Philippines, for
example, had discussed proposed rescheduling of 21 flights on 16 May
and retiming of 13 flights and the cancellation of 6 flights on 17 May
with CAAP. An airline statement issued on 4 May said: "AirAsia has made
adequate preparations to notify guests in advance via SMS and registered
email of the flight schedule changes. It also prepared a massive
information dissemination campaign through its quad media partners and
social media pages."
The incidents have provoked angry responses from passengers and
lawmakers, who held a special Senate panel in January to quiz Tamayo on
the failure. The hearing heard that the software for the country's
communications, navigation, and surveillance/air traffic management
(CNS/ATM) had not been upgraded for two years despite the advice of the
outside contractors who installed the system, and government funds being
available to pay them.