The city government is opposing the plan of Philippine Airlines (PAL) to resume its commercial operations in Palawan starting June 8.
City officials reacted on Saturday to an earlier announcement of the flag carrier resuming its operations following the downgrading of Palawan’s health status to modified general community quarantine.
“We defer to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) decision. But City already stated its position: we are not that ready,” lawyer Arnel Pedrosa told Palawan News in a text message.
Pedrosa also said that a request reiterating the local government’s plea against airport reopening was sent to CAAP officials signed by Dr. Dean Palanca, city’s incident commander for the COVID-19 task force.
Madel Espartero, spokesperson of CAAP-Puerto Princesa City, in a separate message to Palawan News, also said they have yet to set a target date for the reopening of the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA).
“Vine-verify pa namin ‘yan sa head office ‘yong mga nire-release ng mga airlines na schedule. Check pa rin namin if well-coordinated na rin sa LGU,” Espartero said.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, in a press briefing on Friday, announced that commercial flight operations may resume as several cities and provinces have relaxed the community quarantine.
Subsequently, the country’s flag carrier, in an announcement late Friday (May 29), announced to its passengers that the airline company will implement a reduced number of domestic flights on most routes to and from the hub airport in Manila.
“We wish to update you that Philippine Airlines will resume operating scheduled flights on selected international and domestic routes starting from June 1,” the statement said.
Domestic flights to and from Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) under PR 2785/2786 will resume starting June 8, with reduced schedules limited every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Flights to and from Busuanga Airport in Coron town will commence effective June 15 for PR 2961/2962 every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; while PR 2965/2966 is scheduled for Sunday.
“We are happy to be flying again at last, after the longest operational pause in our almost-80-year history (with the exception of World War II),” the statement added.
The management of PAL also encouraged its passengers to check-in online and arrive early at the airport, at least three hours prior to departure, to allocate extra time for new safety procedures such as thermal scanning and social distancing practices for queuing.
PAL assured its fliers that the cabin crew would undergo rapid antibody testing prior to the flight, and will be wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for your protection onboard the flight.
The management also insisted that the aircraft are equipped with high-technology systems that continuously infuse fresh air across the cabin, which are replaced every 2 to 3 minutes. HEPA filters that trap viruses, bacteria and other contaminants with 99.9% efficiency were also said to be included in the cabin air technology.
However, passengers were asked to frequently check on updates from the airline management as the case may differ on a daily basis.
“This is a developing situation, and it is quite possible that our plans and schedules may change, as we may be compelled to scale back on flights and routes based on evolving travel patterns and restrictions, or add flights if demand rebounds more strongly,” the statement said.