Hundreds of airline passengers were stranded as Puerto Princesa City closed its airline doors starting midnight (12 a.m. of March 15) as a measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mayor Lucilo Bayron, in an updated advisory issued Saturday afternoon, set detailed guidelines on the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) temporary suspension on its domestic flights, as the city government bids to prevent COVID-19 from entering the city.

Domestic air travels between Puerto Princesa City and Manila were subsequently canceled based on the quarantine measures set by President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday.

The airport closure even affected routes to Clark, Cebu, and Iloilo.

Local and foreign visitors flocked to the PPIA as early as 3 a.m. on March 14 to avoid being stranded for 30 days in the tourist-haven city, when the local government starts its “community quarantine” from March 15 to April 14.

“Kararating lang namin noong March 13, tapos in less than 24 hours we were basically advised to leave or else we will be stranded here. We have work. We need to get out pero wala namang flights,” a traveller said.

Lawyer Arnel Pedrosa, city administrator, said that domestic flights between Clark, Cebu, and Iloilo may be arranged to “fetch the stranded” visitors.

However, Charo Logarta-Lagamon, spokesperson of Cebu Pacific Inc., said that “special flights” are yet to be determined, pointing out the economic burden on the “empty return flights”.

“Between Manila and Puerto Princesa, wala nang flights coming in and out. The decision on special flights will have to be studied carefully. For now, that’s all we can say about it,” she said.

Some passengers even pointed out the price of flights purchased as of March 14, which amounts to P9,000 and even ballooning up to P15,000.

Throughout Palawan, three airports including PPIA, Lio Airport, and Busuanga Airport will be temporarily closed from March 15 to April 14. (Photo banner is contributed)