Senator Win Gatchalian wants to look into the vulnerabilities of the country’s airport infrastructure system to avoid a repeat of the New Year technical glitch that left tens of thousands of air passengers stranded for hours and even days.
“If left unchecked, any vulnerabilities could undermine government efforts to safeguard economic recovery initiatives for the tourism and transportation sectors,” Gatchalian said, as he filed Senate Resolution 421 calling for an inquiry into the incident, which supposedly stemmed from a technical glitch involving the Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM).
Such inquiry should also zero in on security and redundancy measures in all aspects of the country’s air transportation system to avoid similar incidents and ensure the safety, convenience, and rights of affected passengers, Gatchalian emphasized.
As a result of the New Year glitch, there were reported flight cancellations, diversions, and delays affecting up to 66 thousand passengers. The incident, which caused a shutdown of the country’s entire airspace for about 10 hours, resulted in an estimated revenue loss of P131.97 million based on the average daily revenue of the flight segment sector from 2020 to 2022 of P316.73 billion, as per data from Statista.
Gatchalian also noted that following the incident, various speculations have come out as to the reported cause of the technical glitch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that included the vulnerability of the system to cyberattacks, sabotage diversion of budget allotted for the system to non-essential civil works at NAIA, absence of back-up system outside airport premises, and plain incompetence among traffic control personnel, among others.
Aside from causing revenue loss and inconvenience to stranded passengers, the New Year incident also jeopardized the employment of some overseas Filipino workers who were not able to return to their employers on time.
“Kailangan nating malaman ang puno’t dulo ng mga ganitong pangyayari upang bigyang-daan ng awtoridad ang mga kinakailangang aksyon, kabilang ang mga redundancy measures para masigurong hindi na maulit ang ganitong mga insidente at para din mapanagot ang mga nasa likod nito,” Gatchalian said.
Further, “the incident set back the government’s initiatives to promote the country as a tourism destination,” he added.