The provincial government is pushing for the opening of Palawan’s three gateway airports in San Vicente, Coron, and El Nido for modified commercial flights.
In a Thursday online press briefing by the Provincial Information Office (PIO), Office of the Provincial Governor (OPG) chief of staff Caesar Sammy Magbanua said they are currently finalizing the schedule for the opening of the Lio Airport in El Nido, Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga, and the San Vicente Airport.
“Sa dami ng kailangan nating pauwiin ay ang punto ng ating gobernador ay mag-shift na into modified commercial flights ang mga airport kasama ang ating three gateways — Coron, El Nido and San Vicente,” he said.
“In fact, ngayon ay pinag-uusapan kung kailangang buksan ang Coron kasi nahihirapan ang mga kababayan natin bumiyahe kapag dito sila galing sa city, lalo na medyo maalon na ngayon,” Magbanua added.
He said that it only aims to cater to the bulk of Palaweños who want to return to the province after being stranded in Luzon and other provinces.
Magbanua said the plan is also part of the provincial government’s adjustment after the city government reduced the number of earlier agreed inbound flights at the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) due to lack of quarantine facilities and overworked health workers.
Magbanua said the new schedule of flights is Monday and Friday for Cebu Pacific; Wednesday and Saturday for Philippine Airlines; and Friday and Sunday for AirAsia.
Residents of the city may board flights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while provincial residents may take all flights.
“Nag-request ang lungsod na i-reduce ang number of flights. Instead of twice ay naging once a week na lang, naintindihan naman natin dahil sa kakulangan ng quarantine facility at medyo overburdened na ang mga medical workers. Ang punto naman ni gobernor ay kailangan na mapauwi ang marami nating kababayan. [Noong nakaraan na meeting, napagkasunduan na magkaroon ng flights ang bawat airline two times a week,” he said.
Lio Airport in El Nido has resumed flights on June 18 for both inbound and outbound strandees, according to Fely Salvador, Airswift vice president for Commercial, Airport Services, and Aerodromes.
The Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga, on the other hand, is scheduled to reopen on July 3, according to information officer Jonathan Dabuit.
The San Vicente Airport has yet to confirm its reopening date.
Locally stranded individuals (LSI), returning overseas Filipino workers (ROF) and authorized persons outside residence (APOR) need to comply with the requirements imposed by the IATF before they are allowed to go home, said Magbanua.
“Kailangan pa rin po nila mag-comply sa mga requirements, puwede silang makipag-coordinate sa Sagip Palaweño hotline kasi kapag wala ‘yon ay hindi pa rin sila tatanggapin sa boarding o makapagcheck-in to take their flights,” Magbanua added.
(With reports from Patricia Laririt)