By Benjie Lim Vergara
THE Manila International Airport Authority has initially fined Xiamen Airlines PhP15 million (US$282,611) to cover the recovery cost of its aircraft which crash landed Thursday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and got stuck in the mud blocking a major runway thereby causing delays in a number of international and domestic flights.
MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said the fine will be specifically used to cover the equipment and manpower cost the aircraft which got lodged in a muddy area near NAIA’s runway 06/24.
“All we spent in the recovery of the plane and damages of the runway will be charged to the airline operator,” Monreal said.
The airport executive, however, stressed that the PhP15 million is just an “initial” and “we are still looking for other damages in the runway, and penalties while airport operations officials are finalizing their report and will be submitted to me.”
The MIAA already spent PhP4 million as rent for the crane in lifting the Boeing B737-800 out of the muddy grassy portion of the runway.
The MIAA is considering to charge the Xiamen Air the landing and takeoff fees because more than 200 flights had been canceled as well as the 17 diverted flights to Clark and Cebu during the incident.
The airport chief disclosed that other airlines are mulling to file separate cases against Xiamen Airlines to recover their own losses.
The pilots of Xiamen Air flight MF8667 tried to land during heavy downpour but decided it “mis-approached” and made a turn around for a second attempt. The plane initially landed successfully but it suddenly veered off the runway and ended up stuck at the grassy area.
The B737-800 left engine ripped off and its front landing gear collapsed during the incident. All of the people on board – the 157 passengers and eight crew – were safely evacuated to the NAIA Terminal 1.