Press Release
January 12, 2023

Poe: Third party provider needed to maintain PH air traffic equipment

Sen. Grace Poe urged airport authorities to tap a third party provider that would regularly check and maintain air traffic equipment to avert a similar fiasco that temporarily shut down the country's premier gateway on New Year's Day.

On Thursday's hearing by the Senate committee on public services led by Poe, she stressed the necessity to have a regular audit of the apparatus by experts and competent people, saying that the safety and convenience of air passengers are on the line.

"Parents can look at their children and determine if they're sick, but there's also a regular time when you visit the pediatrician for a regular check. Necessarily, our airport equipment must also also undergo regular checks," she said.

Poe said the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has the resources to engage the services of qualified maintenance providers and must not waste time so as not to "put in jeopardy the safety of the passengers."

On the senator's query, it was found that the contract with Sumitomo Corporation and Thales Australia Ltd. for the maintenance and upgrade of the air traffic equipment and power supply system ended in 2020.

Since then, CAAP Director General Captain Manuel Tamayo said the maintenance works are being done by their "trained and qualified" personnel.

Sumitomo's consultant, lawyer Lloyd Chadwick Lim, agreed with Tamayo, but added that "having a third party would be beneficial."

Poe also inquired about the P511-million air traffic management system that was installed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which she said "has been gathering dust."

Authorities attributed the NAIA air traffic fiasco to "technical issues," which saw more than 65,000 passengers affected throughout the country.

The flight cancellations resulted in a domino effect, which forced passengers to reschedule their flights, take alternate routes or cancel travel plans altogether.

"We cannot overlook the impact of this incident. The domino effect is massive and chaotic. Hindi ko na iisa-isahin pa. I'm sure our airport officials and air carriers have heard enough," Poe said.

"Knowing what and why it happened and seeking accountability is to our best interest. But at the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that this will not happen again - not only by upgrading the system or replacing the equipment but also making sure that the institutions running these are empowered and capacitated," Poe said.

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