Saturday, December 27, 2008

Philippine Air Traffic Controllers Leave Airplane Circling

An airplane was stuck circling a southern Philippine airport for several minutes before landing Friday because air traffic controllers apparently still in a Christmas holiday mood came in late for work, officials said.

The Philippine Airlines flight from Manila was unable to land at Zamboanga city's airport on schedule because there were no traffic controllers around to answer their request to approach the runway, said Reynaldo Alforte, the airport's assistant chief air traffic controller.

"There were two controllers who reported for work a few minutes late, causing delays," Alforte told The Associated Press.

Two other tower workers scheduled to be on duty were absent Friday, he said, adding that the case was under investigation.

Alforte said PAL Flight 123 approached the airport several minutes earlier than its scheduled 6:45 a.m. arrival, and the pilots had to hover around the airport waiting for a response to their calls on the radio. He said the plane finally landed at 6:48 a.m.

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