Flights suspended at Tacloban airport

Flights suspended at Tacloban airport
A jet (R) that skidded off the runaway is seen from inside a turboprop passenger plane, at the airport in Tacloban, January 18, 2015.

TACLOBAN CITY - Operations of the Tacloban airport were limited to small and turboprop planes starting Sunday after a plane overshot its runway the previous day.

Normal operations of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport could resume at 9 p.m. on Tuesday if the plane is removed from a grassy portion of the runway, according to Antonio Alfonso, Eastern Visayas manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

"We can resume normal operations earlier if the obstruction is removed but we can also extend (the limited operations)," Alfonso told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Officials on board

The 19-seater Bombadier Global Express overshot the runway minutes after it took off Saturday afternoon.

An earlier CAAP report said the plane swerved while taking off and swerved due to a crosswind, referring to wind that was traveling in a direction perpendicular or not parallel to that of the plane.

It skidded off the grassy portion of the runway with its nose near the tarmac.

The plane carrying Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., and 10 other officials and their staff took off for Manila after Pope Francis left Tacloban where he celebrated Mass and met with survivors of Supertyphoon "Yolanda."

None of the passengers was injured but the plane needs to be extracted by crane, according to Alfonso.

Stranded, forced transfer

Hundreds of passengers of commercial jet planes were stranded or forced to transfer to other routes being serviced by turboprop planes.

The passengers crowded offices and counters of airlines on Monday trying to find available seats out of Tacloban.

The airport normally has 16 incoming and 16 outgoing flights daily.

Alfonso said only turboprop and small planes were allowed to land and depart from the airport because only 1,500 meters of the the 2,138-meter runway could be utilized.

Runway clearance

The runway requires a clearance of 75 meters from the centre line of the runway extending to each side.

Alfonso said the nose of the Bombadier plane on the grassy area of the runway extended to 40 meters within the required clearance.

Among those allowed to land and take off were two turboprop planes of Cebu Pacific and C-130 cargo planes carrying soldiers and equipment used during the papal visit.

Alfonso said the removal of the plane is being coordinated with its pilots and San Miguel Corp., its owner.

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