File image courtesy of CAAP AREA IV Puerto Princesa International Airport
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has informed airline companies that they are allowed to book their flights at full capacity when flying in stranded individuals.

Acting airport manager Florevic Sonota said that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has not issued any specific guidelines on seating requirements for airlines, unlike for land and sea travel companies, which are required to only be at 50% of their maximum capacity to observe social distancing measures during the COVID-19 crisis.

“[Sa] directives ng DOTr, sa memorandum nila, hindi naka-specify doon [ang seating capacity], hindi katulad sa sea at land na dapat nasa 50% lang [ang seating capacity]. ‘Yong airlines, puwede nilang punuin ang mga aircraft nila,” Sonota said during the Alerto Palaweño press briefing on June 19.

Sonota noted that the mercy flights that have so far arrived in the city had under-utilized seating capacity.

“Iyong unang dumating, ang Cebu Pacific, parang 172 [ang passengers]. Ang PAL (Philippine Airlines), hindi napuno, nasa 60 plus lang, at ‘yong AirAsia di umabot ng 120,” said Sonota.

Ceasar Sammy Magbanua, representing the provincial government in the briefing, said the LGUs prefer to have a maximum number of 120 passengers in each flight.

“One hundred twenty pa rin ang nakasaad doon sa sulat ng ating city government, pero sa punto de vista ng airline companies, puwede silang mag-load ng full capacity, up to 180 maximum,” Magbanua said.

“Pero ang sabi ni Governor [Jose Ch. Alvarez], let us practice social distancing even sa flights natin,” he added.


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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.