Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City received three flights en route to Manila in the Philippines on New Year’s Day, after a power failure at the archipelagic country’s air traffic management center disrupted communications with all planes.
The Vietnam Air Traffic Management (VATM) reported to the director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), Dinh Viet Thang, at 9:45 am on the day about a phone call from the Philippine air traffic management center that it would lose contact with the VATM within minutes.
After that, all aviation communication channels between the two sides, either official or backup, emergency or normal phone calls, were disconnected.
The VATM immediately contacted the flight control agencies of China and Singapore and was told that they faced the same communication problem with the Philippine side.
“The CAAV did not know what happened at the Philippine air traffic management center at that time, but the agreements we signed with each other stipulate that when such a situation occurs, the countries will have the responsibility to support each other,” said Thang.
Therefore, the CAAV advised flights en route to the Philippines to temporarily land at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.
By Sunday afternoon, three flights had chosen to land at Tan Son Nhat in order to wait to fly to the Philippines.
A Reuters report later showed that Philippine authorities halted flights in and out of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Sunday due to the malfunction of air traffic control, which also prevented airlines bound for other destinations from using the country’s airspace.
A total of 282 flights were either delayed, canceled or diverted to other regional airports, affecting around 56,000 passengers at NAIA, the airport operator said the same day.
No Vietnamese airlines were affected by this air traffic incident as they have yet to resume flights between Vietnam and the Philippines, according to Thang.
As of 3:00 pm on the same day, “the system has been partially restored thereby allowing limited flight operations,” Reuters cited the Manila International Airport Authority’s statement.
At around 4:00 pm, the VATM was able to contact the Philippine air traffic authority by phone, but connection via the air traffic channel remained unavailable.
About 40 minutes later, the Philippine aviation authorities sent a telegram to the CAAV to notify that all flight control facilities such as radar and communications systems of the Philippines would be fully restored by 8:00 am on Monday (Vietnam time).
By late evening, eight flight arrivals and eight departures had been allowed, according to the airport operator.