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27 PH airports reopen, passenger flights remain limited

Aviation Updates Philippines – According to latest data from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), 27 local airports have so far been given green lights from local government units to accept passengers flights albeit at a significantly limited scale.

As of Monday, CAAP reported 11 Luzon, seven Visayas, and nine Mindanao airports have reopened. This has included major international gateways such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and Francisco Bangoy International Airport.

On the other hand, 16 domestic airports have not received clearances to reopen from their LGUs. Airports in Dumaguete, Camiguin, Sanga-sanga, Bohol, Marinduque, Bacolod, Butuan, Kalibo, Roxas, Caticlan, Maasin, Hilongos, Guiuan, Laoag, Tuguegarao, and Calbayog remain closed.

As reported previously, Basco, Virac, San Vicente, and Busuanga airports are expected to restart operations by July 1. However, Surigao and Siargao authorities have planned to further delay the reopening to at least August and September 2020, respectively.

Of the 27 airports that have opened so far, only 18 have scheduled commercial flights. Although these are mostly flights to critical airports in the country, airlines are still struggling with their phased restart due to restrictions that have hampered mounting of flights.

Local government units have varied protocols in receiving passenger flights. As an example, Davao City has imposed stricter flight scheduling at its airport as it followed a one-weekly flight per airline, per destination policy.

This means, even though there has been a strong passenger demand, especially with Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs), Philippine carriers cannot add flights without the approval of LGUs. These stringent restrictions were put up to effectively manage the spread of COVID-19.

However, airlines tend to cancel flights even at the last minute, infuriating passengers of the sudden move. As much as these local airlines want to launch flights, the abrupt cancellations are mostly stemmed by the sudden change of regulations from LGUs. 

A few weeks back, the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) said they are now "finding ways" to expedite the mounting of flights to bring home stranded Filipinos. ACAP has been in contact with aviation authorities such as CAAP and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for more trips.

READ: ACAP to expedite mounting of additional flights for LSIs

Over the past few weeks, nevertheless, flights were significantly reduced to some domestic and international destinations. Although health precautions are in place to prevent the spread of the virus, local governments have decided to keep flights at a minimum for some time.

Photo from RM Permission

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