EXPLAINER: Priority Landing and Flight Diversions at Philippine Airports

Passenger health issue is one.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

Health emergencies such as passengers dying or giving birth are among several valid reasons for flights to get diverted, authorities said Wednesday.

The Civil Aviation Authority explained the dynamics of airport traffic after a Cebu Pacific pilot accused Vice President Leni Robredo of seeking priority landing last April, a claim that the airline said was baseless and for which it apologized. 

The CAAP said it would look into the issue once Cebu Pacific files a request for an investigation, said the agency's spokesman, Eric Apolonio. 

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The pilot claimed the priority landing for Robredo supposedly caused some flights to get diverted. 

There are several reasons for flight diversions, Apolonio told TeleRadyo. These include:

  • In-flight medical emergencies, such as birth during flight, heart attacks or stroke
  • Bird strike, or when birds get sucked into the engine of aircrafts or collides with its windshield
  • Disruptive passengers
  • Low fuel
  • Lack of landing space at the airport
  • Bad weather
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While President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped the priority landing and take off privilege for the president in 2016, CAAP still extends this to government officials and foreign dignitaries as long as the request is made in advance, said Apolonio. 

The Office of the Vice President on Tuesday denied the Cebu Pacific pilot's allegation, calling it a "malicious fabrication" as Robredo never asked to be prioritized during her entire stint as vice president.

Fact-checkers, citing flight tracker FlightRadar24, said there were no such flight diversions throughout April.


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