Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has asked the airport authorities to “seriously consider” the reopening of domestic terminals in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

Tugade, talking to the transportation air sector through video conferencing on Thursday (April 30), asked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) officials to accommodate commercial aviation operations to kickstart domestic tourism.

“The reopening of airports in GCQ areas to commercial aviation will gradually jump start airline operations now hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will plant the seeds for domestic tourism. This should seriously be considered,” Tugade said.

Capt. Jim Sydiongco, CAAP director, explained that airlines have existing and established air route networks within the Visayas and Mindanao regions which may be used to put into operation.

“Some airlines are readily capable of mounting inter-island flights to serve communities from one GCQ area to another GCQ area using the inter-Visayas and inter-Mindanao air routes,” Sydiongco said.

Tugade pointed out that commercial airlines with operations normally concentrated in traditional airport hubs such as Manila, Mactan, and Clark, can now operate in regional airports such as Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga, General Santos, and Laguindingan, subject to their aircraft compatibility and configuration.

“We want to operationalize this approach before the end of next week, but of course without compromising health and safety protocols set by the IATF and the Department of Health. Pag-iisipan namin kung paano ito maisasagawa ng maayos at mabilis,” Tugade added.

The Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) caters to domestic flights between Clark, Cebu, and Iloilo.

Mayor Lucilo Bayron issued an executive order on the onset of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which temporarily suspended commercial flights going to and from the city amid the COVID-19 crisis.