HUNDREDS of airline passengers failed to travel abroad the other day when airline companies cancelled at least 10 outbound flights because of typhoon Basyang and diverted these to the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
Other passengers failed to depart yesterday after Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled some of their Manila-Cebu flights, while the typhoon raged.
The Manila International Airport Authority said 63 flights were affected since late Tuesday, as the country’s first typhoon this year hit Luzon.
President Benigno Aquino III scolded the weather bureau for failing to predict the storm would hit Manila.
“This is unacceptable,” Aquino told officials during a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, noting that government agencies were relying on the weather bureau for their preparations. “I hope this is the last time we are all brought to areas different from where we should be.”
Weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo explained it takes forecasters six hours to update weather bulletins. The weather bureau has complained of lack of funding and equipment.
The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms a year.
Last year, back-to-back typhoons in September flooded large portions of Metro Manila and outlying provinces, killing nearly 1,000 people.
Among the international flights cancelled since Tuesday were those leaving Manila for Osaka, Hong Kong, Xiamen, Inchon in South Korea, Bangkok, Singapore, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
Seven Cebu-Manila flights were cancelled in Mactan between 5 a.m. and 9:35 a.m. yesterday. At least five other flights were cancelled in the afternoon and last night.
Jerome Oyao of the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority said that in between, a handful of flights in the Manila-Cebu-Manila routes operated.
Late yesterday afternoon, Engr. Oscar Tabada of the weather bureau’s station in Mactan said typhoon Basyang was downgraded to a weaker tropical storm and was on its way out of the country. (EOB/With AP)