Earthquake Damages Philippines Airport

 - April 24, 2019, 11:32 AM

Clark International Airport (CIA) in Pampanga province, Philippines, was badly damaged after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Monday, but the Metrojet Engineering Clark business aircraft MRO facility there appears to have suffered only minor damage, officials reported.

Located 80 km (50 miles) outside Manila, the airport has been closed indefinitely after the earthquake struck at 5:11 p.m. on April 22. The passenger terminal building, which was refurbished and expanded in 2016, had its ceiling blown off and glass panels in the air traffic control tower broken.

According to Jim Sydiongco, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the agency is assessing the extent of the damage. The two runways, configured for simultaneous parallel operations, are also being checked for cracks.

Metrojet, meanwhile, said its hangar appears to have only a few broken windows but a thorough construction engineering analysis is underway. The facility was designed to withstand an earthquake up to 8 on the Richter Scale, the company said, adding, “Our team will keep monitoring the current situation to ensure potential risks are under control and mitigated.”

Six flights were canceled on the first day and 40 on the second at CIA following the earthquake. An alternate to Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), CIA is a hub for budget carriers, serving Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, AirAsia Philippines Jin Air, CebGo, Scoot, and Tigerair. Cathay Dragon, Asiana Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Air, and Philippine Airlines (PAL) also operate there.

The government frequently requests local airlines move flights to CIA from NAIA to ease congestion at the latter. PAL and Cebu Pacific have responded to the call, moving several domestic and international flights since September.

In January CAAP awarded a consortium led by Filipino conglomerates JG Summit Holdings and Filinvest Development Corp. a 25-year contract to operate and maintain CIA. A former U.S. military base built in 1902, CIA was reverted to the Philippines government in 1991 and converted into a civil airport.

CIA is the second airport in the Philippines to be badly damaged by a natural disaster. In 2013, Tacloban Airport was ripped apart by Super Typhoon Haiyan. The Philippines, an archipelago of 7,641 islands, is part of the Ring of Fire, an area of seismically intense activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan to Indonesia and across the basin in the Pacific Ocean.