Passengers have been demanding explanations from a Chinese airline whose plane crash-landed and overshot the runway at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila amid a downpour just before midnight on Thursday evening.
Chinese, Filipino and passengers of other nationalities made a dramatic evacuation from the smoky cabin of a Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 after its rough touchdown in Manila.
There were reports that many passengers, some of them battered and bruised, were still stranded inside the airport’s Terminal 1, almost 12 hours after the incident. The reports said no one had approached them and offered help, although the crew and some passengers had been billeted at a nearby hotel.
The eight-year-old plane, operating flight MF8667, skidded off the runway, triggering the evacuation chutes. The plane had made a two-and-a-half-hour hop from the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen. Tracking data on websites managed by aviation buffs suggested that before its rough landing the crew had aborted an earlier landing attempt, probably due to torrential rain.
The aircraft suffered visible damage to its landing gear and one of its engines was detached from the wing. Photos showed the plane was leaning to the left as a result of the missing engine.
All 157 passengers and eight crew were safe with no injuries reported, according to the carrier and the Manila International Airport Authority, while the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines had started a probe into the incident.
A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority said on Friday morning that the plane had yet to be towed off the main runway, but its flight data recorder, or block box, had already been handed to investigators.
China’s Xiamen Air has had an exemplary track record of safe operations since the 2000s. It is owned by the state-run China Southern Airlines. Chinese and Filipino tourists have used the carrier’s route between Xiamen and Manila since its launch several years ago.
There were fears the accident and runway closure may create more chaos at Manila’s most important aviation gateway, as since this week typhoons and flooding had already wreaked havoc on the airport’s operations.
An increasing number of flights have been diverted to Clark International Airport. Cebu Pacific told GMA News that its passengers on the diverted flights will be shuffled by bus to downtown Manila.
“The closure of the main NAIA runway will affect operations of our large wide-body aircraft. Our operations will be disrupted today and may cause severe delay of other flights,” the company said.
“We will provide regular updates on our flight schedules today. Our priority is to ensure the safety of our passengers and to manage the flight disruptions.”