NAIA Local Line Sets Off Bomb Search

The Departure of a US-bound commercial plane was delayed after baggage-handling personnel at Terminal 1 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) received a bomb threat over the phone around 3 a.m. on Saturday.

The threat came from a man who spoke in Filipino and used a local line, indicating that the call was made from within the airport complex, according to a source at NAIA.

The call sent police teams on a security sweep of Delta Airlines Flight DL-172, about five hours before the scheduled takeoff of the Boeing 747 aircraft.

The plane, bound for New York with a stopover in Narita, Japan, took off after a minor delay around 8:21 a.m. after bomb squads declared it clear of any threat, according to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

The plane was originally scheduled to leave at 7:55 a.m. Passengers eventually boarded the aircraft without incident, but additional bomb-sniffing dogs were used to check the Delta Airlines check-in counter, the flight’s departure gate and the airport ramp.

Information gathered from the MIAA showed that employees manning baggage conveyors at Naia Terminal 1’s arrival hall received a call at 3 a.m. saying the aircraft “will explode at 5 a.m.”

The male caller spoke in Filipino and used a local line, indicating that the call was made from within the Naia complex, according to an MIAA source who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak to the media.

A check of MIAA’s phone system showed that no such call came through the trunkline.

The caller made two calls 10 minutes apart, said the source, who was at Terminal 1 at that time and was privy to the police response.

The call came through just as two Delta planes, both parked at the Naia ramp, were being prepared for their early-morning flights.

Apart from Flight 172, Delta’s Manila-Nagoya-Detroit Flight DL 630, also a 747, was already open for check-in procedures at the time the calls were received.

Teams from the Philippine National Police and the Airport Police Department deployed K-9 units to inspect both aircraft. The sweep took about an hour.MIAA said the threat neither disrupted terminal operations nor caused an alarm among passengers.

An investigation into the source of the call was going on at press time.


-Philippines Daily Inquirer