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CAAP says priority landing privileges suspended since 2016

May 18, 2022 - Wednesday 4:05 PM by Catherine Cueto

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IN the wake of the controversy over the allegations that Vice President Leni Robredo requested a priority landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines on Wednesday clarified that no less than President Rodrigo Duterte suspended such privilege given to heads of state since 2016.

"As of July 28, 2016, nag-order po ang ating mahal na Pangulong Mayor Digong Duterte na alisin 'yang pribilehiyo na 'yan at 'yung mga flights nila, isusunod sila dun sa schedule dun sa airport (As of July 28, 2016, President Mayor Rodrigo Digong Duterte ordered the removal of such privilege and the flights should follow the schedule at the airport)," CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio said in a radio interview.

He added that while it may still be adapted for government officials and foreign dignitaries, it is being requested in advance and not on the spot.

"Pag nag-file ng flight plan 'yung air operator, dapat kasama na roon na kailangan nila ng priority landing (When the air operator files a flight plan, it should include the request for priority landing)," Apolonio said.

The President, Vice President, and Senate President are entitled to landing and take-off priority in all airports in the country.

However, the vice president's camp had already denied making such a request, and Cebu Pacific, where one of their pilots made the accusation, apologized over the issue. 

"Lying, unfortunately, has become a full-blown industry on social media," the OVP said.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, the Cebu Pacific pilot claimed that Robredo allegedly requested for priority landing last month, which forced flights to divert.

The budget carrier has then placed the aviator under a disciplinary review over his accusations after a thorough investigation showed that the pilot's claim "had no basis" and " was purely speculative and careless on his part."

Apolonio said that among the most common reasons for plane diversions are medical emergencies such as heart attack, bird strikes, disruptive passenger behavior on board, insufficient fuel due to congestion in the airspace, or lack of landing space at the airport.

Apolonio said the agency would only look at it once Cebu Pacific files a report or if that flight's safety was "compromised".

He reminded professional aviators that disclosing air traffic data is illegal.

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