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Clark airport structurally sound, to partially open.

DIOSDADO Macapagal International Airport-Except for the ceiling of the check-in counters at the departure area and some minor cracks on the second floor, no other part of this airport complex sustained major damage from the 6.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Luzon island at 5:11 p.m. on Monday.

'The good news is the tower can be operated. It has not sustained any substantial damage. The runway and the apron and the taxiways are all sound,' Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) President/CEO Jaime Alberto Melo said on Tuesday.

'The horizontal infrastructures, the road surface of the airport has no problem,' he added.

'The vertical, the tower is already declared safe by an inspection team of the Clark Development Corp. [CDC] and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines [Caap] building officials,' he said.

'The terminal is now being assessed. So, once the terminal is considered safe, it will be immediately repaired,' Melo pointed out. 'The repair crews are already on hand,' he added.

'So, we will decide what will be prioritized for repair for partial operation,' he said. 'We will try for partial operation today,' he added.

However, Melo said, 'in my own assessment, we might open tomorrow.' Melo met the press at the departure area here after completing the inspection of the runway, taxiways and the airport tower with the CDC and Caap building officials.

Electric power in the entire airport complex has been restored. 'But we did not switch it on because the electricals in the departure area are still yet to be repaired,' Melo said.

At least 14 flights (arrival and departure) were affected by the closure on Monday right after the temblor. Another 104 flights were canceled on Tuesday affecting 1,500 passengers.

Passengers stranded at this airport since Monday were given two choices by their respective airlines-rebook or get a refund.

In case of rebooking, passengers are advised to get confirmation from their airlines first before traveling via P2P bus to the Ninoy Aquino International Nirport (Naia) for seamless travel.

Safety above all-Manankil

MEANWHILE, CDC President Noel F. Manankil said that as of 10:30 p.m. on Monday, all utilities have been restored and the roads are all passable.

'We're doing more assessments of structures inside Clark. But so far, they are all operational, and we have advised all the locators to ensure safety regarding the integrity of their structures before allowing their employees to report for work,' Manankil said.

'But all our efforts now are on Clark airport. We will join hands for the opening of the airport,' he said.

Bases Conversion Development Authority Vice President Jake Bingcang assured the public that 'as early as last night, there was already an initial assessment of the facilities undergoing construction, and no damage has been found.' He added that construction for new and expansion areas in the airport complex is ongoing, but safety precautions have been put in place.

After the earthquake on Monday, CIAC suspended international and domestic flights.

Melo said seven persons suffered minor injuries when a part of the ceiling at the check-in lobby collapsed. The victims were rushed to a nearby hospital.

The CIAC crisis team, headed by Melo, said flights were suspended for 24 hours beginning 7:40 p.m. on Monday. But Melo said CIAC will try to open the airport as scheduled late on Tuesday.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 24, 2019
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