Close call with plane after driving lesson on runway

The Philippines' top aviation official has been suspended after his son nearly collided with a commercial plane while giving his girlfriend driving lessons on the runway, the government said Tuesday.

A Cebu Pacific Airways pilot filed a police complaint after nearly hitting the van on Saturday as he was about to land at Legaspi airport southeast of Manila, President Gloria Arroyo's spokesman Cerge Remonde said.

He aborted the landing and waited for the runway to clear.

The 80 passengers on the domestic flight included Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano, the spokesman added.

Frisco Santo Domingo, the chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, was suspended effective immediately while an official enquiry is underway, Remonde told reporters.

Police said his son, Luis Santo Domingo, had admitted that he used the runway to give his girlfriend driving lessons, Remonde said.

The younger Santo Domingo, who owns a house near Legaspi airport, also admitted using the airport premises regularly as a short cut to his property, he added.

The official's son told police he used the runway for the driving lessons as he was unaware there were scheduled afternoon flights there.