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Domestic air travel remains in a mess

/ 04:07 AM June 15, 2020

Domestic airlines still find it difficult to serve stranded passengers across the country—a result of poor coordination between the national and local governments as new coronavirus cases continue to rise.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (Acap) is instead appealing to passengers to proceed to the airport “only when they have confirmed flights.”Hundreds of locally stranded Filipinos have set up camp under an expressway near Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) while waiting to catch a flight home.

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“The situation is very fluid as travel restrictions from the national and LGUs (local government units) change as they manage the current public health situation. Flights are limited at the moment as airlines comply with these restrictions,” Acap vice chair Roberto Lim said in a statement.

Acap represents the country’s three biggest air carriers: Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines.

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During a House transportation committee hearing last week, a frustrated Rep. Edgar Sarmiento told the Department of the Interior and Local Government to “work it out.”

Those issues have yet to be ironed out.

“We are working with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Manila International Airport Authority and other government agencies to find ways to expedite the mounting of additional flights,” Lim said.“At the same time, we also understand the concerns of the national government and concerned local government units with regards to the risks surrounding the surge of travelers from Metro Manila,” he added.

At present, guests will not be allowed entry to Naia if their flights are canceled. Moreover, those unable to present boarding documents at the terminal entrance will also not be allowed to enter the airport premises.

Passengers are strongly urged to check the email address and mobile numbers provided to the airlines upon booking their flights for any changes to their flight schedules, Lim said.

With flights for tourism still banned, locally stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are among those permitted to fly. The DOTr said it has assisted more than 29,000 OFWs, including 14,106 for air travel, under the government’s Hatid Probinsya program. INQ

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