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Poe acknowledges efforts of NAIA, airlines to help passengers during runway mishap

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Senator Grace Poe on Monday said the probe on the August 16 runway incident was not meant to “disparage” the efforts of airport and airline staff in attending to the needs of affected passengers.

Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, stood pat on her initial assessment that airlines and airport officials were remiss of their duties in ensuring the welfare of inconvenienced passengers following the runway mishap at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last month.

She ended the investigation into the incident involving Xiamen Airlines that skidded off the runway amid a heavy downpour on August 16 which led to “total chaos” at the country’s gateway.

“May pagkukulang ang mga airlines at ang airport management dito. Malaki ang pagkukulang nila. Marami ang naperhuwisyo,” Poe said.

“Dealing with irate, hungry, and tired passengers is not an easy task. Alam ko marami sa inyo did your best given the situation and we are learning from this,” she said.

Poe noted that even Manila International Airport Authority MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal was “basically crucified when everybody was talking about this.”

“Moving forward, I hope that we will prevent this from happening again.

We don’t really get a free pass but I think that we should be a little more considerate because this is the first time this has happened,” Poe said.

“These lessons will be enshrined in our Committee report, for the reference of future generations,” she added.

Poe said she will include in the draft report airport officials’ admission that they failed to immediately convene a crisis committee with the representatives from airline firms “that is why coordination failed.”

“Unang-una, sabi ko dapat ang crisis management team nila ay magtipon-tipon kaagad kasama ang mga airline representatives kapag may nangyaring ganito,” she said.

“Ang mga airlines, naipapangako natin na magbibigay ng tamang abiso sa mga pasahero kung hindi matutuloy ang mga flights at magbibigay ng pagkain at danyos,” she said.

During the first hearing, Monreal admitted they failed to give water and food to stranded passengers, majority of whom had to stay inside the airport terminals only to wait for several hours and even days for their flight to depart.

Airlines were also criticized by the affected passengers after they allegedly failed to provide food, water, or hotel accommodation, while some were still demanding for refund or reimbursements several weeks after the incident happened.