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    Customs to fast track foreign aid clearance

    September 20th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport will prioritize the facilitation of all incoming international aid for victims of super typhoon Ompong.

    Port of NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan said the customs will fast track clearances for foreign relief goods like sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene and shelter kits and sort of packed noodles, except medicines which needs clearance from the Bureau of Food and Drugs.

    Reports said Australia is giving AUD$800,000 or about PhP31 million in humanitarian assistance for the victims of Typhoon Ompong.

    Typhoon Ompong smashed through Northern Luzon on Saturday and left a trace of destruction.

    (Read More:

    Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme on Sunday said that it is transporting 20,000 bags of rice for families affected by “Ompong,” the strongest storm to hit in 2018.

    The sacks will be transported from the National Food Authority in Valenzuela to the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Resource Operations Center.

    Once all of them arrived at the Port of NAIA, Talusan said, they will assist in giving clearances for the immediate release of the goods.


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    NAIA new rapid exit taxiways launched

    September 11th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    2nd exit taxiway to help decongest NAIA runway. Photo by

    EXECUTIVE Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Monday led the inauguration and commissioning of the two new Rapid Exit Taxiways at Runway 06/24 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport which cost PhP309 million to build.

    According to Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal, the main purpose of the rapid taxiways is to reduce runway occupancy time of arriving large aircraft allowing succeeding aircraft operation at the runway in shorter time minimizing air traffic congestion and flight delays as well as to shorten aircraft spacing requirements for air traffic control.

    “The construction of the East and West Rapid Exit Taxiways (which started on June 15, 2018) were carried out simultaneously and was undertaken with NAIA remaining operational and causing no interruption or danger to airport operations,” Monreal added.

    Monreal added that the country’s main gateway has now four high speed exits that commercial airlines can use.

    “It shall provide quicker exit for aircraft going to the taxiway and pave the way for quicker release of flights taking off.”

    Aside from Medialdea and Tugade, the other invited guest who graced the occasion were DOTr Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo and Civil Aviation Authority director general Jim Sydiongco.

    Meanwhile, the MIAA said the project entailed design parameters based on the Aerodrome Design Manual of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

    The thickness for the pavement structures of the new exit taxiways was designed based on the requirements for the characteristics of large new aircraft.

    MIAA said the new rapid taxiways were designed with concrete pavement and asphalt shoulder and its design life is twenty years.


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    PAL enhances service offerings

    September 9th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    A PAL plane ©

    FOUR-star national carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has enhanced service offerings to bring comfort and convenience to senior citizens.

    According to PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna, PAL will unveil a package of products and services, some existing and some new, geared towards ensuring that its senior citizen passengers will have a comfortable and stress-free travel experience.

    Moreover, Villaluna said the campaign highlighting the service offerings will be launched on September 9, Grandparents’ Day.

    Some of the special privilege for senior citizens are:

    – Twenty percent discount and VAT exemption for domestic flights

    – Online booking and check in

    – Special meals, including pre-cut meals

    – Curbside drop off and pick up points

    – Priority check-in and immigration lanes

    – Courtesy waiting areas and seats

    -Special wheelchair assistance from departure to arrival

    – Priority boarding

    – Wheelchair-friendly airport terminal transfer buses

    – Courtesy area for baggage retrieval

    “PAL values all our passengers, especially those who need special assistance, our senior citizens and PWDs. Their needs are our priority. We want to make their travel experience comfortable and delightful,” PAL Chief Customer Experience Officer Jessica Abaya said.

    She added that “we continually stress to our frontliners the importance of bringing to life PAL’s Service Culture of “Buong Pusong Alaga, Walang Katulad na Pag-Aruga.

    Abaya said its senior citizen-passengers can now avail of special meals to suit their dietary requirements with the option for soft-diet or pre-cut meals. However, she advised passengers to declare their meal requirements and other requests for assistance during booking/reservation or at least 48 hours before travel.

    Senior citizens can now avail of 20 percent discount for ticket purchases of domestic flights in line with the Senior Citizen Law.

    Including the highlights on Grandparents’ Day, PAL partners with Bo’s Coffee in NAIA Terminal 1 and Mactan-Cebu to provide senior citizens free chocolate chip cookie for every coffee bought.

    “As the country’ 4-Star national carrier, we provide our travelers a heartwarming experience to remember. We bring comfort and convenience to those who need them most,” Abaya stressed.


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    Uncoordinated flights at NAIA is safe – CAAP

    September 7th, 2018

    Marlene Singson, aerodrome division chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). INQUIRER.NET PHOTO/CATHY MIRANDA

    THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines told the House of Representatives that the uncoordinated flights of airlines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport posed no danger in terms of air safety.

    CAAP Aerodrome Division Chief Marlene Singson made this claim during the recent House panel probe on Xiamen Air crash landing incident that paralyzed the airport and airline operations. She said there would be no breach in air safety despite certain incoming flights which are not in the priority list or do not have proper flight schedules.

    (Read More:

    Furthermore, Singson explained that some of these uncoordinated flights asking to land to Manila airport that were given permission might be flying low on fuel.

    “They are already here, and we cannot refuse their requests,” Singson said, adding that some of these aircraft are flying for more than four hours in Manila airspace, “so we give them permission to land.”

    However, Singson pointed out that they have instructed airlines planning for recovery flights and whose aircraft are still in the port of origin to avoid or not to proceed NAIA.

    There are 40 commercial fights and two events for general aviation for (42) landing and (42) takeoff an hour at NAIA. But sometimes it exceeded the takeoff and landing slot because of some uncoordinated flights.

    Singson said airlines that have proper flight schedules have been given air traffic rights – entry and exit clearance within 72-hour validity.

    About 78 uncoordinated flights were recorded to have landed to Manila without even getting permission from Philippine aviation authorities during Xiamen Air incident.

    Meanwhile, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal said local and international airlines who made uncoordinated flights will be penalized. He noted that they are after the 37 out of 78 local and foreign airlines that created congestion at the NAIA right after the Xiamen Air mishap.

    “If the plane carrying 200 passengers, we will fine the airlines PhP5,000 for each passenger, and it depends on how big the aircraft,” Monreal said, adding the bigger the aircraft, the more passengers it will carry.

    He pointed out that these coordinated flights were the ones who made the airport/runway congested. Ramp controllers at the NAIA terminal 1 have a hard time relocating the aircraft from different airlines.

    Some of these planes stayed at the remote parking bay as well as the taxiway of the runway, Monreal added.

    Some of the airlines who made uncoordinated flights are: Asiana Airlines with 1 arrival and 1 departure; China Eastern, 1 arrival; China Southern, 2 arrivals; Etihad Airlines, 2 arrivals; Eva Air, 1; Gulf Air, 1; Japan Airlines, 2; Jeju Airlines, 2; Korean Airlines, 1, Kuwait Airways, 1; Malaysia Airlines, 2; Qantas Airlines, 1; Air Brunei, 1; Xiamen Air, 4, Philippine Airlines, 3, Hong Kong Airlines, 2; Air China, 2; Oman Air, 1; Qatar Airways, 1; Thai Airways, 1.


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    Bomb joke cause seven hour flight delay on Cotabato bound plane

    August 30th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Members of the Aviation Security Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) inspect the luggage from flight PR2959 at the tarmac of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Thursday, after one of its passengers made a bomb joke, prompting aviation authorities to ground the plane. The passengers were transferred to another plane to ensure their safety. Photo by Benjie Lim Vergara.

    A BAD joke from an Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao employee caused a seven hour delay on a Cotabato bound Philippine airlines flight, airport authorities said on Thursday.

    Saidona Singgon’s alleged bomb joke caused PAL Flight PR2959 to be delayed as all of its passengers were told to disembark. Their luggage were also offloaded and rigorously inspected by the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group.

    Singgon, who claimed to be an Airport Manager 3 of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), was immediately arrested after the plane parked at the airport’s remote area.

    The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said PR2959 has 139 passengers and four crew. It was supposed to depart at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at 7:30 a.m. but had to return to the terminal because its air-conditioning bogged down.

    The MIAA said that shortly thereafter, the airport’s command center has received a call from PAL Station at the NAIA Terminal 2 informing them that a passenger, later identified as Singgon, cracked a bomb joke. The joke prompted the police to conduct a thorough inspection of all the luggage brought on board.

    Meanwhile, CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio denied that Singgon is an employee of the CAAP.

    The CAAP and DOTr (Department of Transportation) deny any connection with the passenger who claimed that he is a DOTr-CAAP employee. Upon verification, Mr. Singgon is identified to be an employee of the autonomous DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) under ARMM,” the CAAP statement said.

    Under the law, the consequences for a bomb joke include a fine of not more than PhP40,000 or jail term of not more than five years, or both, depending on the decision of the courts if a case is filed.

    PAL Spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the airline has apologized for the inconvenience to the rest of the passengers, who had to disembark so that authorities could inspect the aircraft thoroughly. These incidents are taken very seriously, as the security and safety of the passengers is the topmost concern of the airline and the authorities.

    PAL takes this opportunity to remind all passengers to refrain from making any jokes about bombs and security threats. The authorities are duty-bound to take appropriate action to safeguard the passengers and all flights. There is no compromise when it comes to ensuring the security of Philippine aviation and all the people who entrust the airlines with their safety and well-being,” a PAL statement said.

    Villaluna said PAL management will file a case against the passenger.

    MIAA Assistant General for Operation Octavio Lina said PR2959 was allowed to takeoff at 2:49 p.m. towards its destination after it was cleared from any explosive.


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    NAIA needs two parallel runways – MIAA

    August 28th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    MIAA GM Ed Monreal Photo ©

    MANILA International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport needs to have two parallel runways so as not to repeat the recent flight disruptions suffered by the country’s premier airport when a Boeing B737-800 of Xiamen Airlines crash landed and blocked the airport’s main runway.

    “The best basic solution is to construct an airport with at least two parallel runways. Pero dapat malayo ang agwat nitong dalawang runway (but there must be minimum distance or there would be enough space between the two parallel runways), we have to consider the safety. If there’s an accident like this one affecting the main runway, there will be another or alternate (similar) runway we can use,” Monreal, during a recent press conference, told reporters after being asked about the improvements that could be made at the airport.

    The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in 2014 has pushed for the construction of a parallel runway at the NAIA in a bid to ease congestion at the airport.

    Former CAAP deputy director general Capt. John Andrews said the construction of the parallel runway at NAIA could increase the airport’s capacity from 40 to about 60 aircraft movements per hour, and would be constructed south of the existing runway 08/24 with the 400-hectare NAIA complex.

    NAIA was built in 1981 with two intersecting runways – the primary runway 06/24 and secondary runway 13/31. To limit aircraft movements at 40 slot per hour, the CAAP transferred the general aviation flights to the Sangley Airport in Cavite.

    However, the plan of NAIA runway improvements did not push through.

    Several flights including PAL, Cebu Pacific and other airlines have been canceled, diverted and delayed after the Xiamen Airlines plane got plane stuck on the mud after it swerved off the runway upon landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on the night of August 16.

    “The week-end closure of the Philippine capital’s main airport due to a stalled Xiamen Airlines jet was an ‘eye-opener’ for authorities to improve protocols,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a television interview on Wednesday.

    (Read More:

    Romulo-Puyat said the country is “on track” to meet its tourist arrival targets due to the recent upgrade of air terminals, including the New Mactan-Cebu Airport. The Philippines is aiming for 7.4 million visitors this year and 12 million in 2022.

    “We need to improve the procedures and protocols and processes. This is actually an eye-opener,” Romulo said, adding she was “quite surprised” that tourist arrivals were increasing despite the six-month closure of Boracay.

    “We didn’t want this to happen, but it happened. We are supporting (Transportation) Secretary (Arthur) Tugade so this does not happen again,” she said about the airport accident.

    DOTr Secretary Tugade, meanwhile, agreed with Romulo-Puyat noting that the accident is also a reminder for the authorities to revisit the Air Passengers Bill of Rights, review the intervention protocols between the airlines and the airport authorities, recast our equipment inventory and enhance the training modules we do at the airport in cases of emergencies.”

    Tugade added that he is aggressively pushing for the implementation of DOTr aviation road map, which can be summarized into the following:

    1. Improve the facilities and structures of existing gateways, such as in NAIA terminals 1, 2, 3, and 4;

    2. Construct/establish other primary gateways (e.g. Bulaan and Sangley), which is now being prioritized;

    3. Develop/improve/construct various regional/provincial airports (e.g. have all commercial airports night-rated, new airports have been given a face lift such as Puerto Princesa, Cebu, Tuguegarao, San Vicente, etc.; construction of new airports such as in Panglao and Bicol are ongoing, while construction of Bukidnon airport shall start before the end of this year); and,

    4. Establish air traffic control and management systems (We have already completed the CNS/ATM facility, which added 10 more air traffic radars from the existing 3 radars we had when we assumed office).


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    BoC turned over some PhP37 million worth of seized illegal drugs to PDEA

    August 26th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs recently has turned over to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency some PhP37.3 million worth of illegal drugs it earlier seized from the bonded warehouses of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

    The BoC haul consisted of 5,239 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu which were concealed in various items like a baby carrier, camera, finance magazines and bar tools. The contraband were interdicted last May, June, and July respectively.

    Aside from shabu, 1,000 pieces of party drugs known as Ecstacy, which was concealed in wooden toys, were seized on July 20, according to Customs District Collector Carmelita Talusan.

    The seizures, Talusan said, were due to consistent “reform initiatives and his five-point program of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña.” She added that some of the seized shabu was intended to be exported to New Zealand. The shabu mostly came from the United States while the Ecstacy came from Germany.

    Talusan also noted that a thorough joint knowledge of x-ray scanners and frontliners also led to effective apprehensions.

    “We were able to apprehend drugs,” because of these.

    Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena (center) and Port of NAIA Collector Carmelita Talusan turn over the drugs worth P37.3 million to PDEA-NCR director Joel B. Plaza. Photo by Benjie L. Vergara

    Meanwhile, Lapeña said the bureau continues the anti-drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte and will continue to ensue vigilance in protecting the borders.

    The Customs executive said the continuing drugs apprehension meant that “we are winning the war against drugs.”


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    NAIA BI officer allegedly mistreated PH chess grandmaster for interrupting his cellphone game

    August 24th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Filipino Chess Grandmaster Rogelio “Joey” Antonio

    A BUREAU of Immigration officer assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport allegedly maltreated one of the country’s chess grandmaster recently after he was “disturbed” with a polite inquiry about the terminal fee refund by the renowned chess player while he was reportedly engrossed playing a cellular phone game.

    Filipino Chess Grandmaster Rogelio “Joey” Antonio said he got the “treatment” of his life from an on duty BI officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 after he mistakenly interrupted his “game.”

    GM Antonio is among the international chess players participating in the 15th Merdeka Chess Festival 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was awarded the title Chess Grandmaster in 1993 by the World Chess Federation or FIDE (Federation Internationale des Echecs).

    Through social media, GM Antonio narrated that after checking-in for his August 16 flight at the AirAsia airlines counter, and his travel document was already cleared at the BI booth, he approached an Immigration Officer (IO) who was allegedly playing cellphone games, to ask where he could find the Manila International Airport Authority refund booth.

    According to the grandmaster, he politely greeted the government employee but to his surprise, the officer suddenly yelled and rudely told him to go to another table where he could make a query.

    Disappointed by the action of the immigration officer, Antonio advised the man who was identified only as “Perez” to keep his voice down.

    However, the irate immigration officer even threatened him, “Salita ka pa baka hindi ka makaalis ng Pinas (one more word and you can’t leave the country).”

    This led him to introduced himself and name drop some people working at the BI prompting Perez to change his attitude. He later apologized to GM Antonio.

    The grandmaster said he tried to get the full name of Perez but failed. He added that some of his colleagues even went as far as hiding his name.

    “But I know their faces,” the grandmaster said as he bared plans to file an administrative complaint against Perez to teach him a lesson on how to properly deal with the public.


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    CAAP set to make final analysis of the cause of Xiamen Airlines crash landing at the NAIA

    August 23rd, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    A Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737-800 is pictured on a grassy area next to airport perimeter fence after it overshot the runway at Ninoy Aquino International airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila in Philippines, early August 17, 2018. Anjo Perez/Manila International Airport Authority/Handout via REUTERS

    INVESTIGATORS looking into last week’s crash landing of Xiamen Airlines Boeing B737-800 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport made another thorough inspection of a portion of runway 06/24 where the accident happened.

    This according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines-Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (CAAP-AAIB) as they make their final analysis of the accident and recommendation.

    CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio, at the same time, said there are two choices where to send the plane’s black box – Singapore or Japan. He noted that it is a first come, first serve policy when in a situation like this. In Singapore, they must wait for long line of request, but in Japan is much easier, so most likely the black box will be sent to the latter.

    The black box contains two separate equipment: the flight data recorder (FDR) and a cockpit voice recorder (CVR). They are compulsory on any commercial flight or corporate jet and are usually kept in the tail of an aircraft, where they are more likely to survive a crash, said in a website.

    Apolonio said experts will decipher what exactly the condition of the aircraft before it lands the runway as well as the conversation between the pilot and the Manila Control Tower.

    CAAP source said Xiamen Air’s pilot during its investigation at the CAAP office in Pasay City told CAAP probers that heavy rains obstructed his view of the runway during his first and second attempt to land.

    (Read More:

    Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has issued certification addressed to immigration officials in Riyadh and Dammam that returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to their country with expired visas was due to the force majeure situation in Manila which started August 16, 2018.

    “A number of passengers of the canceled flights to the Middle East whose visas to these countries have expired have been given PAL certifications indicating that they are returning with expired visas due to the force majeure situation,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said.

    “We thank the Civil Aviation Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for approving the triangulated flight -Manila/Riyadh/Dammam/Manila – thus enabling our kababayans, our OFWs to fly back and resume employment,” she added.

    In view of the recent cancellations of flights to Saudi Arabia, PAL will mount flights on Wednesday, August 22, to accommodate displaced passengers en-route to Riyadh and Dammam.

    Villaluna said the airline has mounted PR5654 (Manila-Riyadh-Dammam) that departed at 11:45a.m. and arriving in Riyadh at 4:20p.m., while it will arrive in Dammam at 6:55p.m.

    Also, PR5683 (Riyadh-Dammam-Manila) will depart Riyadh at 5:50 p.m., departure from Dammam at 8:35 p.m. and will arrive in Manila at 11:35 a.m. (August 23).

    Villaluna said passengers who wish to take the flight but have not yet received a notification that they are booked, are advised to immediately contact the airline 8558888, or any PAL ticketing office as soon as possible due to the limited number of seats.


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    Xiamen Airlines asked to pay for the recovery of stuck aircraft

    August 22nd, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Image by

    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.

    (Read More:

    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.


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    Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines has normalized operations in NAIA

    August 21st, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    NAIA back to normal operations. Image by

    BUDGET airline Cebu Pacific Air on Tuesday said its operations has normalized after three days of flight cancellations due to a Chinese aircraft mishap.

    CEB, in an advisory, said “barring any other technical, weather-related or other extraordinary circumstances, we do not plan to cancel flights.”

    However, it also said passengers on all domestic and international flights flying out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 from August 17 until today (August 21, 2018) may still opt to rebook their flights for travel within 30 days.

    The airline reiterated that for passengers whose flights were canceled, they may still avail of the following options, without penalties: rebook flights for travel within 30 days from original date of departure; convert into a Travel Fund for future use; get a full refund.

    “We strongly encourage passengers to re-book or refund flights through the “Manage Booking” section inn the Cebu Pacific website ( They may also send us a message on our official Facebook ( and Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) accounts,” the advisory said.

    The airline also expressed gratitude to the Department of Transportation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Manila International Airport Authority, and the Civil Aeronautics Board “for their assistance.”

    They also thank the domestic airports for the cooperation and assistance when the CEB had to divert flights.

    “Please allow us to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the men and women of Cebu Pacific – from our pilots to cabin crew, front liners, ticketing agents, call center representatives, customer communications staff, and other support team members for volunteering to take on extended duty to help manage the situation as best they could. Most importantly, we thank our passengers for their patience and understanding,” the advisory said.

    CEB was forced to cancel its flights in the past few days following the closure of NAIA runway 06/24 after Xiamen Airlines skidded off the runway while landing on Thursday night, August 16.

    (Read More:

    Meanwhile, the Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced that special flights were arranged to accommodate several stranded passengers respectively bound for Vancouver, Canada for August 21, Riyadh, and Dammam in Saudi Arabia for August 22.

    The flag carrier, at the same time, thanked its passengers/clients/guests for their patience and understanding during the last few challenging days, “when our flights to and from our Manila hub were severely affected by the closure of NAIA runway 06/24.”

    “The blockage of the main runway, by another airline’s disabled aircraft compelled us to divert many flights to Clark, Cebu, Davao and even overseas including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), where more than 20 of our airplanes were stranded. The timely deplaning of passengers became a challenge too at some diversion airports despite our efforts in coordinating with airport authorities at these airports because of the sudden influx of multiple diverted flights from various airlines,” PAL said.

    The airline said it struggled to operate some flights from the secondary runway, 13/31, which could accept smaller aircraft. Unfortunately, there were still delays and cancellations as dozens of flights from different smaller airlines switched to the runway, not to mention the strong tailwinds that required closing Runway 13/31 at times.

    “We exerted all efforts to take care of affected passengers, who, we recognize, had to endure uncertainty, long waits and discomfort. We acknowledge, however, that our efforts were not enough at some of the critical times. And for this, we sincerely apologize and we assure you that we will strive to do more and make the necessary improvements for the benefit of all,” PAL said.

    PAL also expressed gratitude to the Manila International Airport Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority, and other government agencies here and abroad, with whom they have been constantly coordinating as well as appreciation to all its personnel, service providers and other program partners who gave all-out dedication during the difficult time, and most of all, to their customers and their families.

    (Read More


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    Xiamen Air pilots negative of drugs – Civil Aviation Authorities of the Philippines

    August 20th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    (File photo) MIAA GM Ed Monreal and CAAP DG Jim Sydiongco. Image by

    THE Civil Aviation Authorities of the Philippines on Monday cleared the Xiamen Airline pilots of the crashed Boeing B737-800 of drug use after their drug test came out negative.

    According to the CAAP, the drug testing is a standard requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

    “The results of the drug tests were negative. We still await the result of the alcohol tests because it would take a long process. But we expect to the results today. As we speak, there is an on-going investigation and interview with the pilots and the cabin crew,” CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco said.

    “The pilot in command or the captain is a Korean male, who is 50 years old and has a grand total time of 16,000 flying hours with 7,000 hours on the Boeing B737-800 aircraft type. The First Officer or the co-pilot is a Chinese male, 28 years old, with a grand total time of 950 flying hours and 750 hours on the Boeing B737-800 aircraft type,” he added.

    The pilots sustained no injuries; however, both were required to undergo post flight accident medical examination by the CAAP.

    (Read More:

    Sydiongco said the two pilots were summoned on Monday by the aviation regulator to explain their side, and had told them to what actually happened after the aircraft landed in heavy downpour. He, however, did not elaborate further.

    Xiamen Air flight MF8667 suffered runway excursion before midnight on Thursday and caused thousands of passengers stranded at the NAIA after the incident because of cancellation, diversion of flights, and delays.

    Runway excursion is the aviation term for aircraft that skidded off the runway.

    The incident also blocked larger aircraft like Boeing B747, B787, Airbus A330, A340, as well as A350.

    The CAAP, he said, is closely working together with Manila International Airport authority (MIAA), the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the airline operators in creating proactive measures in order to prevent an event like this from happening.

    Sydiongco also said that they are still waiting for the result of the examination of the flight recorder which will be brought to Singapore.

    “The result will take a week,” he said.

    In another development, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said that Xiamen Air officials has agreed to spend over a million peso for the cost of food and water for passengers stranded at the four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

    “We suggested it and they agree that they will do it immediately,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said after his meeting with Xiamen Air officials.

    Monreal urged Xiamen Air officials to show compassion with the passengers affected by the incident – not in the form of monetary compensation but token like food and water and other that they (airline) can provide. He added they advised the airline officials to coordinate with the ground handling agents to carry it out.

    (Read More

    Monreal also disclosed that Xiamen Air staff has also apologized for the inconvenience that the incident has caused.

    Thousands of passengers were stranded at the NAIA after the incident because of cancellation, diversion of flights and delays after a Chinese aircraft suffered runway excursion before midnight on Thursday.

    He also said that Xiamen Air, who made their public apology through its social media, will be fined for the damaged done by its plane.

    When asked why it took 36 hours before the aircraft was extricated from the mud, he replied that there is a difficulty on extracting an airplane involved in an incident such as Xiamen Air because of some factors: remaining fuel on the plane tank, weather – heavy rains, thunderstorms and mud.

    The danger is, he said, that one spark on the fuel tank could lead to disaster.


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    High air traffic volume “plaguing” NAIA

    August 19th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    (File photo) NAIA aircraft bays. Image by

    THE ramp controllers of the Philippines’ premier airport on Sunday admitted having a hard time find parking bays for foreign airlines due to the huge volume traffic the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is experiencing following the reopening of runway 06/24 which was temporarily blocked by a Boeing 737-800 of Xiamen Airlines which crash landed last week.

    (Read More:

    “The number of aircraft has doubled since Saturday when it started to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after runway 06/24 has reopened,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) senior ramp controller Manny Hortaleza said.

    He said ramp controllers are too busy directing pilots where to park their respective aircraft upon landing, as well as when to push back out of the bays for departing planes.

    Algier Ramo, another senior ramp controller, said hours after the runway was cleared of obstruction and debris from Xiamen Air incident, they received “unceasing” requests from the local and foreign aircraft asking bay assignments or where to park.

    The two senior ramp controllers said that there are 29 foreign airlines and a local airline operating at the terminal 1. Some of these airlines are operating twice or three flights a day, while other airlines are operating four times a day.

    “When NAIA runway operation resumed, certain airlines wanted to ferry their stranded passengers out of Manila, in an effort to bring back the normalcy of their flight operations,” Ramo stressed.

    He added that on a normal duty, only two ramp controllers were assigned per shift, but on Saturday, the MIAA deployed five ramp controllers every shift to work together to help decongest the ramp area with foreign aircraft.

    Meanwhile, MIAA general manager Ed Monreal has urged the airlines to be cooperative with the authority after he learned or received an information that a certain airline company “has mounted recovery flights without even letting us know.”

    The MIAA executive, however, said he is not blaming the airline, which he declined to identify, because the airline has only wanted to ease their problem.

    “I urge them to coordinate with the MIAA before mounting any recovery flights,” Monreal said, adding, it will only add pressure to the present situation of the airport.

    He said that before the reopening of the runway, the MIAA gave an instruction to the airlines to coordinate with them if they (airlines) have plans regarding its operations.

    A quite number of passengers are still stranded at the NAIA terminals particularly at the Terminal 1.

    Monreal said the process of normalcy is ongoing, “we’re hoping, maybe it will be able to go back to normal operations.”

    “Since we reopen the airport’s runway, as of yesterday (Saturday) until this morning, we have accounted 681 flights which consists of domestic operations and international. That’s an average of 200 passengers a flight or an average of 136,200 passengers in and out of NAIA,” Monreal said.

    The airport official asked why quite number of passengers are still stranded at NAIA in which he replied that it is the airline companies who could ease the present problem because they have the control, the logistics – planes, schedules, how many pilots and crew they want to deploy, and to mount flights.

    “We only accommodate. I leave it to the airlines to plan their own logistics, schedules. The MIAA will accept it as long as the airlines inform them,” Monreal said.

    Asked about the plight of OFWs who feared of losing their jobs because they failed to return to their employers on time, Monreal said that the airlines should take care of them, the welfare of the OFWs.

    He said he had asked the Airline Operators Council (AOC), an association of foreign and local airlines operating at NAIA, to assist passengers for humanitarian reason during the times of such situation like this, and to give them certification to explain to OFWs’ employers that it is not the fault of the OFWs why they failed to return on the day of their duty or work after spending vacation in the Philippines.


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    Xiamen Airlines plane still stuck in mud at NAIA runway, investigations underway

    August 17th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    A Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737-800 is pictured on a grassy area next to airport perimeter fence after it overshot the runway at Ninoy Aquino International airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila in Philippines, early August 17, 2018. Anjo Perez/Manila International Airport Authority/Handout via REUTERS

    FORTY eight international and domestic flights were canceled while seven incoming international flights were diverted to Clark and Cebu International Airports following Thursday’s accident involving a Boeing 737-800 plane of Xiamen Airlines.

    Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said Xiamen Airlines flight MF8667 from China with 157 passengers and crew on board, swerved to the grassy portion of the airport’s runway 06-24 and crashed around 11:55p.m. due to heavy downpour. Except for three passengers who sustained minor injuries, most of the passengers were safe.

    The plane’s passengers were immediately evacuated using the aircraft’s emergency chutes and were safely transferred to NAIA Terminal 1. They were provided with blankets and food by the airline’s concern and later brought them to a nearby hotel.

    Monreal said the impact of the crash caused the left engine to collapse and be thrown about a hundred meters away from the aircraft.

    (Read More

    Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Captain Jim Sydiongco said the pilot “mis-approached” his first attempt to land because of the heavy downpour. The pilot, which the MIAA did not identify, succeeded on his second attempt, however, the plane swerved to the right shortly after touchdown and ended up at the grassy area.

    CAAP Accident Investigation Inquiry Board (AIIB) chief Rainer Baculinao and MIAA officials rushed to the site to assess the situation and coordinated with the airline officials while supervising the recovery and clearing operations.

    CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said the aviation regulator issued a Notice-to-airmen (Notam) for temporary closure of runway 06-24 following the incident.

    As of press time, airport authorities are working to remove the stalled aircraft.

    Some of the flights that were canceled due to runway closure are:

    From Terminal 1

    Etihad Airways EY421 (Manila-Abu Dhabi), Saudia Airlines SV871 (Jeddah-Manila), Hong Kong Air (Hong Kong-Manila), China Airlines (Taipei-Manila).

    Terminal 2

    Philippine Airlines PR453/ PR454 (Manila-Gensan-Manila), PR1845/PR1846 (Manila-Cebu-Manila), PR432 (Manila-Tokyo), PR408 (Manila-Osaka-Kansai), PR438 (Manila-Nagoya).

    PAL Express 2P2959 (Manila-Cagaya de Oro).

    Terminal 3

    Cathay Pacific CX908 (Manila-Hong Kong), CX912 (Manila-Hong Kong), CX907 (Manila-Hong Kong), CX906 (Manila-Hong Kong), CX901 (Manila-Hong Kong), CX900 (Manila-Hong Kong).

    Cebu Pacific Air flights 5J272 (Manila-Hong Kong), 5J273 (Hong Kong-Manila), 5J5054 (Manila-Hong Kong), 5J5055 (Narita-Manila), 5J929 (Manila-Bangkok), 5J930 (Bangkok-Manila), 5J930 (Bangkok-Manila), 5J110 (Hong Kong-Manila), 5J111 (Hong Kong-Manila), 5J805 (Manila-Singapore), 5J806 (Manila-Singapore). 5J188 (Manila-Incheon), 5J187 (Incheon-Manila), 5J487 (Manila-Bacolod), 5J488 (Bacolod-Manila).

    Diverted flights

    PAL PR105 (San Francisco-Manila), and PR117 (Vancouver-Manila) diverted to Cebu; PR103 (Los Angeles-Manila), PR115 (San Francisco-Manila), PR119 (Toronto-Manila) were diverted to Clark. PR655 (Riyadh-Manila), PR683 (Dammam-Manila) diverted to Bangkok. PR657 (Abu Dhabi-Manila) diverted to Saigon.

    Also, Cebu Pacific flights 5J187 (Seoul/Incheon-Manila), and 5J804 (Singapore-Manila) were diverted to Clark.

    Monreal said that they are doing their best to out the aircraft from the site as they are having a hard time removing the stuck plane’s front landing gear.

    Meanwhile, the aviation regulator chief, Sydiongco, extended apologies to affected passengers because  of the delays of extracting the disabled 66-ton plane, which is 50 meters from the center line of the runway, which is obstacle of the runway 06/24, flight cancellations, diversion of flights and flights delays.

    He added that the plane’s flight data recorder will reveal the cause of incident.

    The MIAA said despite the soft soil which hampered aircraft extraction, it gained slight improvement on the situation.

    Monreal said that two cranes hired by MIAA to be utilized for the extraction of the plane were already brought inside the airport complex.

    “We already hired a crane that could lift the whole airplane out of the mud and eventually out of the runway,” Monreal added.

    Monreal added there are also lifters that will be used to lift the damaged aircraft.

    Officials hoped they will able to extract the plane to the 4p.m. deadline, but it was extended to three- hours on the aircraft extraction to secure it from further damage.

    However, authorities disclosed that the B737-800 would be cut into smaller pieces if within 48 hours their efforts to remove the stalled aircraft remained futile.

    In another development, a certain Chinese passenger of MF8667 identified only as Jessie, recalled that he smelled something burning after the plane has landed, but did not elaborate.


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    Australian human rights advocate deported from PH

    August 10th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Human Rights advocate Prof. Gill Hale Boehringer. Image ©

    PHILIPPINE immigration authorities have barred from the country an 84-year old human rights advocate from Australia because he allegedly participated in a 2015 rally protesting the senseless killings of Lumads in Mindanao.

    Australian national Gill Hale Boehringer arrived Wednesday night at the Ninoy Aquino International airport from China only to find out that his name is blacklisted by the immigration authorities and that he cannot enter the country.

    Boehringer said his purpose for coming to Manila is to help his wife process her documents to the Australian Embassy so he can bring her to Australia.

    “I want her to be with me…for good. But I also want to live here (Philippines),” Boehringer said, adding that “the law in the Philippines does not want him here.”

    Boehringer, who asked to be named, said her husband’s human rights advocacy is the reason why he was prevented from entering the country.

    This observation was confirmed when immigration officials told reporters that Boehringer violated the Philippine immigration law by joining local protest rally in Manila on June 2015.

    “We don’t really know that. Unfortunately, everything has been done verbally. They (Immigration) don’t give documents whatsoever. If I was in the country, I don’t recall attending that rally and I think I don’t remember it,” Boehringer stressed.

    Boehringer, who is a United States born Boehringer, started living in Australia in 1974 after serving the US Navy since 1955. He is a retired Professor of Law and History, Honorary Associate at Macquarie University School of Law.

    A frequent traveler to Manila, Boehringer said his interest in indigenous people apparently put him at risk. He added that he was invited on June 2015 to a solidarity mission in Surigao del Sur, to help the indigenous people particularly the Lumads, and other tribes in Mindanao to unite or form a union.

    Boehringer said he left on November 2015, and came back on July 2016 when he started wooing his wife. They got married in 2017.

    On March 2018, Boehringer’s wife said military men in Surigao del Sur stopped Boehringer and several members of human rights groups who were visiting fur-flung communities in the province to conduct tutoring to Lumads. The military later allowed the human rights group including Boehringer to proceed to their destination after several questions were asked.

    On Friday morning, Boehringer was asked by immigration authorities to have a medical check-up. Escorted by Australian embassy staff, Boehringer went to see the NAIA physicians but they did not clear him for travel.

    “I’m concerned for my health. I’m in good health. But traveling Manila to Guangzhou and down to Sydney is a longer trip and it takes 15-hour traveling time. It is a long stress,” Boehringer said, adding that he then suggested if he could go to a hospital that could if he is fit to travel.

    “My concern is, I don’t want to die. I feel tired and a little bit stress, emotional. Generally speaking, I’m okay. I want to get the right medicine so that I can take it on my flight,” Boehringer explained.

    Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration clarified that the Australian professor was not detained but placed under the custody of the airline.

    The BI explained that since the Australian tourist was a subject of an exclusion order last August 8 arising from his inclusion in the BI’s blacklist, he remained at the exclusion room of the NAIA pending his return flight last Friday.

    “We wish to dispel the notion that Mr. Boehringer is detained by BI,” Immigration spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval said.

    Boehringer, the BI said, has appealed to be admitted to the country, which the BI denied citing his “failure to controvert the assessment of the immigration officer.”

    However, the BI reiterated that Boehringer may opt to later file for the lifting of his blacklist, which is subject to the presentation of proof to reverse the order of exclusion.

    The BI further said that “it is upon the assessment of the medical team of the airline that Boehringer was allowed to go back to China.”

    “The bureau understands and considers his situation and has extended all possible assistance our office can give to him, including medical attention from his chosen physician.”

    This is not the first time that the BI goes after a foreigner human rights advocates.

    Last month, according to News.Com.AU, the BI ordered the deportation of an Australian nun, Sister Patricia Anne Fox, who had angered President Rodrigo Duterte by joining anti-government rallies. She appealed the expulsion order and remains in the country.


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    BoC seized two luxury cars at the NAIA due to alleged violation of importation laws

    August 6th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña Photo ©

    THE Bureau of Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Thursday seized two preowned Porsche Boxster from Germany after its alleged consignee, Don Bosco Technical Institute of Makati Inc., failed to produce the necessary importation papers for the luxury vehicles.

    Customs District III Collector Carmelita Talusan said the used vehicles, Porsche Boxster S and Porsche Panamera 4S which respectively has 200 and 1,000 kilometers recorded on its odometers, had a total estimated value of PhP28 million. She also said the cars arrived in the country via Malaysia Airlines on August 5, 2017, and consigned to Don Bosco Technical Institute of Makati, Inc.

    The vehicles have been sitting at the port since then, which prompted the BoC to issue a Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) for it.

    Customs authorities, citing the importation records, said the two expensive cars were “allegedly intended to be used for training purposes.”

    However, Talusan, said, based on the Import Regulations Division of Department of Trade and Industry, the consignee of the two Porsche cars violated Executive Order No. 156 which prohibits the importation of used motor vehicles.

    Talusan added, the consignee has no authority to import used motor vehicles which are still required even if the intention is for training purpose of any school.

    Meanwhile, BoC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said “only special purpose vehicles can have exemptions like fire trucks, ambulances, funeral hearses, crane lorries, boom trucks, tanker trucks, reefers, street sweepers, mixers, garbage compactors and special purpose trucks/vehicles.”

    Lapeña said the luxury cars would undergo forfeiture proceedings and would be later be subjected to destruction.

    According to the BoC, the customs duty and taxes for of each luxury cars is PhP4,965, 561 (Boxster S) and PhP 7,512,477 (Boxster Panamera 4S). It added that the consignee can file a letter for request for redemption, but that would be subject for approval.


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    Customs revenue collection up at the NAIA

    August 5th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday expressed confidence that it will hit its target collection for the year end after noting that it has continuously exceeded its monthly collection since May.

    According to District III Collector Carmelita Talusan, because of the full cooperation of the bureau’s personnel and the revenue enhancement measures it adopted, the port’s revenue collection has improved.

    Talusan said the total revenue collected from May to July has reached to PhP9.738 billion, surpassing the PhP9.440 billion target collection. She pointed out that their collection target during these periods was PhP3 billion for the month of May, PhP3.150 billion for June, and PhP3.290 billion for the month of July.

    But the actual collection for the targeted months each respectively came with a total of PhP3.154 billion, P3.237 billion, and P3.346 billion, Talusan explained.

    Pharmaceuticals, electronic parts, communications equipment, cellphone gadgets and parts, computer parts, perishable items, and plane engine and its parts are the main factors of importations at the NAIA bonded warehouses.

    While at the NAIA arrival area, Customs officials collected duties and taxes from passengers bringing in taxable items such as expensive collection of signature bags, jewelry, and other items the passengers failed to declare.

    Talusan said the district’s improved revenue collection performance is driven by the strong revenue enhancement measures adopted by the BoC in compliance with the earlier directive of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña in a bid to hit the revenue collection goal.

    Recently, Lapeña commended the Port of NAIA and other ports for exceeding revenue targets.

    Talusan added, they will jointly pursue more reforms “which will not only focus on our goal to hit the target but will also enhance government service and improve the image of the bureau.”

    The District III Collection port earlier launched the logo-slogan “Hit the Target” campaign. Talusan added that the campaign will jump start a synergy and mind setting for NAIA Customs employees.


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    Malaysian caught with dangerous drugs at the NAIA

    August 3rd, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    A MALAYSIAN national on Friday was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for trying to smuggle out of the country Ketamine, a pain killer classified under Philippine laws as a dangerous drug.

    Cheong Seng Onn, 41, was passing through the airport security when he was stopped by Office for Transportation Security (OTS) personnel after a green elongated plastic straw containing a white powdery stuff, which turns out to be the Ketamine, was found on the left rear pocket of his pants. He was about to check in for his Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR507 to Malaysia when flagged down.

    Aviation Police Superintendent Sandro Jay Taffala said OTS personnel Andrea Mae Angeles noticed that something is in the left rear pocket of Cheong as he passes through the security check after which she requested him to remove all items in his pocket.

    Sensing the hesitancy of Cheong to cooperate, Angeles called the Aviation police, Taffala said.

    Cheong was then asked to proceed to the aviation police station where he was asked to bring out all items in his pocket, Taffala said, adding that it was then when the green plastic straw was found.

    Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent Jade Calleda, who conducted a field test of the powdery substance in Cheong’s presence, said it yielded Ketamine (a pain-killer medication) which is classified as dangerous drugs.

    Cheong failed to present pertinent document to proof the legality of the said medications and was thus placed under arrest.

    Ketamine, is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. It induces a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss, according to Wikipedia.


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    Security at NAIA tightened following Basilan bombing

    August 1st, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    (File photo) Cops on patrol as security at NAIA was heightened ©

    PHILIPPINE Airport authorities on Wednesday said it is implementing enhanced security measures at the country’s premier airport following the bombing incident in Lamitan, Basilan, that left 11 people dead and scores wounded.

    Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said the MIAA is not taking chances as they adopted a 100 percent deployment of organic airport police and contracted security forces at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport complex.

    “We advised the public to just go through the usual airport procedures without minding these enhancements. What we are doing is not intended to alarm them,” Monreal told said, adding, that he ordered for full manning complement of all shifts as directed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

    Monreal added that there will be increased frequency of vehicle checks with random inspections to be conducted using MIAA’s recently procured hybrid explosive detection equipment.

    The MIAA also intensified foot patrol and perimeter surveillance as well as K9 paneling.

    The airport executive reiterated his instruction to all Terminal Managers and the security department to ensure 100 percent efficiency of all walk thru and baggage screening equipment.

    Monreal assured everyone “that the implementation of these enhanced measures shall not affect flight operations” as he appealed to public to cooperate as their safety is always paramount.


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    PH NAIA Terminal Rationalization Program put on hold

    July 31st, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    THE Terminal Rationalization Program or the new terminal assignments for airlines that is supposed to begin this August has been postponed, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said on Monday.

    “Terminal transfer of airlines will not proceed as originally envisioned,” the MIAA said in statement, adding, “while talks with some airline operators have started and with some signifying their intent to transfer, options that have been discussed are exploratory in nature.”

    The reassignment of airlines, as reported, was an initiative of the MIAA and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in an effort to decongest Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) by maximizing the use of the terminals through the alignment of domestic and international operations in accordance with the design of the terminals.

    The MIAA added, “discussions gave rise to unforeseen operational constraints that require longer time to resolve.”

    “In this regard, the MIAA in its letter dated June 5, formalized to the Committee Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, its request to defer the implementation of the Terminal Rationalization Program. Therefore, no transfer of airlines will occur until further notice,” the statement said.

    MIAA explained that the unforeseen operational constraints are: using NAIA Terminal 2 exclusively for domestic flights will necessarily increase passenger traffic from an average of 26,000 to 60,000 per day.

    This traffic in addition to all pending construction in Terminal 2 such as the expansion of its lobby, expansion of equipment parking at the North wing and South wing areas, the construction of additional bus gates and the canopy by the bridge will render it difficult to conveniently accommodate such volume of passengers.

    The MIAA further said, the forthcoming and much-needed rehabilitation of Terminal 2 will further limit the capacity of the Terminal to handle the exponential increase in passenger traffic if the program will be implemented prior all major construction works for rehabilitation.

    The operator of NAIA also clarified that the transfer of certain Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights to NAIA Terminal 1 is necessary to prepare NAIA Terminal 2 for its rehabilitation which is expected to commence before end of the year.

    “We assure the air riding public that passenger safety, comfort and convenience are always our priority,” the MIAA said.

    Terminal 1 houses the flights of most foreign carriers; however, PAL have the following flights operating also at Terminal 1, these are:

    From San Francisco – PR105 and PR115 arriving at Terminal 1, until further notice.

    From Los Angeles, PR103 and PR113 arriving at Terminal 1 until further notice.

    To and from Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Jeddah, Kuwait, and Riyadh, departing and arriving at Terminal 1, NAIA starting July 1, 2017, until further notice.

    Effective July 31, 2018, PAL flights to Vancouver, Toronto, and New York shall depart and arrive in Manila Terminal 1.

    All Canada flights en route Manila on July 30 (Vancouver-Manila and Toronto-Manila) shall arrive on July 31 at NAIA Terminal 1.

    MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal recently said that they are embarking on a PhP600 million renovation of the NAIA Terminal 2, to enlarge it and accommodate PAL and Cebu Pacific, purely for domestic operations, while Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 would be purely for international flights.

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    Two Chinese policemen with gold sans BSP clearance intercepted at the NAIA

    July 30th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    The Bureau of Customs shows gold items seized from two Chinese policemen at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 last Friday. Photo and caption by Philippine Star

    THE Bureau of Customs on Friday has prevented two policemen from China from bringing out of the country a total 1.9 kilos of gold items due to the absence of a clearance from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

    Bureau of Customs (BoC) District III Collector Carmelita Talusan said the Chinese policemen Yang Jie and Shi Senlin need to secure a permit or clearance from the BSP before they will be allowed to bring out the gold items from the country.

    The policemen, who were also escorting eight Chinese deportees, had the gold items in their carry-on bags when it was discovered by BoC personnel manning the security x-ray at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2. The gold items were wrapped with transparent plastic and placed inside a carton box.

    The gold items consists of 9 gold coins (with different animal design), one piece of Elizabeth II, a US$100 gold coin, two pieces of gold bars AU 999.9, two pieces of 500 CTF/999.9 gold bars and six pieces of gold bracelets.

    The Chinese policemen claimed that the gold items belonged to China and were brought to the Philippines illegally by the Chinese deportees. They, however, failed to produce any documentation for the gold.

    Talusan said it was Customs on duty supervisor Charlon Tejada stopped the Chinese police officers.

    Tejada said the gold items was temporarily placed under the BoC custody pending the presentation of a BSP permit. The customs officer also said they issued a “held baggage receipt” to Chinese police officers.

    The Chinese policemen and the deportees were then allowed to go on with their journey sans the gold.

    Under Section 117 of the Regulated Importation and Exportation of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act R.A. 10863, it is illegal to bring out gold from the country without a BSP clearance.


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    NAIA runway repairs completed

    July 24th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    (File photo) Ninoy Aquino International Airport Runway 6/24 (PHOTO) Brian J. McMorrow – Pbase

    AIRPORT authorities has repaired the  potholes along the taxiway of the country’s premier aerodrome, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

    In a statement released to the media, the Manila International Airport Authority disclosed that as early as last week, it has been attempting to conduct the runway repairs at the NAIA’s Charlie 4 taxiway but failed to do so because of inclement weather.

    The heavy rains, a MIAA source said, caused a number of potholes along the length of Charlie 4.

    “The general manager of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Ed Monreal and I had been planning about it since last week, but we needed good weather to do it,” said Department of Transportation for Aviation and Airports Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo.

    He added that “as soon as DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade learned of this, he asked for the repair schedule and the immediate timeline.”

    The repair works commenced at 2p.m. on Monday.

    Monreal said the repair of three out of the six potholes have been completed. He, however, added that work is still ongoing until all the repairs are completed later in the day.

    Because of the taxiway repair, the country’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a Notice to Airmen (Notam) about the potholes and work in progress.

    Monreal added that based on the inspection, no potholes where found on the other runways. He likewise assured no flights were affected nor disrupted in the course of the repair works

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    E-Gate installed in PH airports to facilitate fast processing of passengers – BI

    July 19th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    A foreigner tries out the Bureau of Immigration Information System (BIIS) E-Counter at NAIA terminal 3. Photo ©

    THE Bureau of Immigration on Thursday afternoon introduced a PhP328 million electronic gate system or e-Gate to enhance and lessen the clearing time of travelers.

    BI officials said the e-Gate, an initiative introduced by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called Fast Travel program, will simplify and efficiently improve clearing processes. It also “aims to provide the agency with efficiency and accuracy on pinpointing citizens under watch list and/or persons of interest in immigration formalities.”

    The e-Gate will enhance clearing time of each traveler and reduce human errors in the process of clearing. It will be initially used to for Filipino citizens at arrival formalities.

    According to Marc Red Marinas, BI’s Port Operations Division (POD) chief, the standard processing time for a passenger to be cleared at an immigration counter is 45 seconds. He added, however, that it may take longer depending on the primary or secondary requirements of the individual passengers.

    Marinas said there are 21 units of e-Gates installed at four international airports in the country, these are: NAIA Terminal 1 – 5 e-Gates, NAIA Terminal 3-6 e-Gates, Mactan-Cebu International Airport-5, Clark International Airport-3, and Davao International Airport-2.

    This project, Marinas said, was funded by the national government at a cost of PhP328,869,000.

    Meanwhile, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said that the NAIA 3 e-Gate was launched on July 18. He said arriving Filipinos must have machine readable passports.

    For secondary inspections, duty supervisors and secondary officers are stationed nearby in attention for signals or red lights from the e-Gates, he added.

    The use of e-Gates aimed to enhance the agency’s security capability through additional security checks, facial recognition, biometric scanning, bar code reader, and smart card recognition all rolled into one system.


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    PH BoC preparing to auction a multi-million peso passenger aircraft to recover unpaid obligations

    July 16th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    BUREAU of Customs authorities on Monday finally seized a passenger aircraft which was grounded last year for non-payment of import duties and taxes at the time of importation.

    BoC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said the previous importer of the aircraft, a British-made BAE 146-100 with registry number RP-C8538, failed to settle its tax obligations to the government amounting to more than PhP90 million.

    The owner and the present management of the 80-seater four-engine jet, Magnum Air (Skyjet), has consistently cooperated and participated in all legal proceedings conducted by the BoC, Lapeña said, adding that the seizure case has been ongoing for more than one year.

    Records showed that the BoC took the custody of the plane on March 29, 2017, after the original owner failed to show proof of payment of duties and taxes, and other documents on the acquisition of the aircraft and its operations.

    According to Magnum, they purchased the plane from its previous owner without knowledge that it has unsettled tax obligations.

    Customs District III Collector Carmelita Talusan said when the aircraft original owner was first alerted on March last year, then as district collector of Port of Subic, she requested for a letter of authority to demand proof of payment of duties ans taxes as no record of any import entry or warehousing entry was filed by the owners.

    Based on reports, Magnum Air was a former registered locator of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) but was delisted and has ceased operations in 2014.

    “Presently, the aircraft is forfeited in favor of the government after finding that its importation was attended with fraud and for being used in commercial flights since its importation without payment of customs duties and taxes,” Lapeña said.

    Customs-NAIA authorities said the forfeited Skyjet is estimated to be worth PhP583.58 million or around US$10.916 million.

    Magnum Air is liable to pay to the bureau an estimated of PhP90,514,936 for the aircraft customs duties and taxes excluding penalties and charges.

    Magnum Air, Inc., filed an appeal against the forfeiture order of the Port of NAIA. It is now pending at the District Wii’s Legal Service.

    The current owner of the aircraft, Magnum Air, said it is willing to comply with any lawful decision “that may arise from this seizure proceedings which resulted from the previous management’s illegal acts.”

    Magnum disclosed that it has filed a case of syndicated estafa as early as February 2016 against the previous management for illegal acts and other irregularities, a copy of the complaint has been submitted to BoC during the seizure proceedings.

    Upon finality of the Order of Forfeiture, Talusan said, the Port of NAIA will proceed with the public auction of aircraft, which will be the first auction of an aircraft in the country.


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    Ultra comfy plane to serve Manila-Sapporo route starting September- PAL

    July 6th, 2018

    Benjie Lim Vergara

    PAL Airbus A321 landing at Haneda Airport. Image ©

    THE Philippine Airlines is set to use its new ultra comfortable Airbus A321neo Aircraft for its Manila-Sapporo route come September 10 this year.

    PAL president and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista said “on our flights to Sapporo, PAL passengers can expect an ultra-comfortable travel experience with the improved cabin and seat features of our new airbus A321neo airplane.”

    He added that aside from ultra-comfortable travel experience, it has Wifi connectivity and excessive in-flight entertainment options.

    The new Airbus A321neo aircraft was first used on July 2 by the four star carrier on its Manila-Brisbane route.

    The 168-seater Airbus A321neo has 12 seats in business class and 156 seats in economy class. Its business class cabin boasts generous seat pitch (legroom) of 60 inches and seats that are up to 23 inches wide and recline to become full flat beds, measuring 78 inches in length. The economy cabins offer ample stretching room with a seat pitch of 32 inches.

    The new PAL route, Bautista said, will be the only one-stop air link between the Philippines and Sapporo, the capital of the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido. Hokkaido is accessible by high speed train going to Tokyo.

    PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna, meanwhile, said the nonstop PAL service will operate thrice weekly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, landing at Sapporo’s new Chitose Airport using the flag carrier’s brand-new aircraft.

    Sapporo will be the next Japanese destination served by PAL.

    According to PAL Vice President for Operations Ismael Augusto Gozon, the new Chitose Airport is about an hour from the dive bars to the city of Sapporo and it is 15 minutes by train, and 60 minutes by water service.

    “The new Chitose Airport is the fifth busiest airport in Japan. It is used by a little less than 21 million passengers. Actually, we are happy that we now have an equipment that can bring us to this new and exciting place that is Sapporo,” Gozon said during the launch of Manila-Sapporo service.

    Gozon revealed that they initially test marketed the Sapporo through charter flight two days ago and last year, where Filipinos are now all over.

    “The reception was actually very good. It actually resulted very well to the market.”

    From Manila, PAL currently flies to Fukuoka, Nagoya (Chubu), Osaka (Kansai), and Tokyo (both Narita and Haneda airports); from Cebu, the airline operates flights to Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo, Narita.

    PAL said, all these services translate to a total of 89 weekly PAL flights between the Philippines and Japan making the airline with the largest route network in Japan from its two main hubs in Manila and Cebu.

    It offers a one-day today (July 6) said of US$399 round trip for economy base fare, and US$599 for business class. Its regular fare to Sapporo is US$999 for economy class, while US$1650 for business class.


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