An unexpected travel crisis and its impact on the Philippine maritime industry…



Approved nikos gazelidis
Nikos Gazelidis

Commercial Director, Marine


Whether it’s due to man-made chaos or volatile weather, travelling via the Philippines is always at risk of disruption and, due to its status as a global shipping hub, this presents a real challenge for those in the maritime sector.

However, there are ways to mitigate the risk. We talked to Mariecar Han, ATPI’s Managing Director for the Philippines, about how the recent Xiamen airline crash acts as the perfect example of why organisations in the Philippine maritime industry need a particular kind of travel management company…

What happened?

On 16th August 2018, Xiamen Airlines flight MF8667 crash-landed at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in the Philippines, with the Boeing 737-800 skidding off the side of the runway after its second attempt at landing in a heavy downpour.

Fortunately, none of the 165 people on board were seriously injured, but the accident did cause major disruptions at the airport. During the landing, the plane’s left engine was ripped off, creating tremendous debris that blocked the runway and forced its closure until the morning of 20th August.

How did it affect travellers?

Due to the aftermath of the Xiamen Airlines incident, NAIA forced the closure of the runway in order to recover the damage. This resulted in 269 flight cancellations, hundreds of delayed journeys and thousands of stranded passengers from 16th – 20th August.

For travelling maritime personnel, the paralysed operations of the country’s main gateway created a domino effect – compromising crew rotations, project deadlines, productivity and trading.

What does a specialist TMC do in this situation?

Travel is mission critical in the maritime sector and so any disruptions to travel plans can threaten to have major ramifications on the cost, and at times success, of a project, which is why it’s essential for those in the shipping industry to be partnered with a specialist TMC who can react immediately,” explains Mariecar.

The first thing that a specialist TMC should do is locate all travellers that are in the affected area, usually by performing a traveller tracking search, and alert them straight away to the fact that their journey is going to be disrupted.

Due to our traveller tracking technology and our 24/7 support teams, we were able to communicate with our clients and their travellers immediately to update them on the situation and then work with them to advise what their next course of action should be. Speed and immediate action is a real asset in times of disruption, as for those in the maritime sector time certainly is money,” says Mariecar.

Our out-of-hours team were able to respond as soon as it was announced that the runway would be closed and could offer advice to frustrated travellers,” Mariecar explains. “Reliability is so important to both clients and their travellers in an incident such as the Xiamen incident – they just want to know that someone is there whenever they need them and will be able to get them back on schedule.”

Throughout the course of the 3-day closure of the runway, our team sent a total of 6 advisories to our clients in order to support them through the disruption. We then worked to reschedule their travel and ensure that they were returned to a ‘business as usual’ situation as quickly as possible.”

Learn more about ATPI’s sector-specific offering for the maritime industry