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COVID-19 IMPACT

Chance passengers stay overnight at NAIA, waiting for uncertain flights


Taking their chances, several air passengers trooped and stayed overnight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) hoping to book flights to their respective provinces on Thursday.

According to a report of Bam Alegre on GMA News’ Unang Balita, Rodel Piong and his wife had been walking to the airport back and forth for a chance to book a flight.

Change passengers crowd NAIA Terminal 2. Photos by Danny Pata
Change passengers crowd NAIA Terminal 2. Photos by Danny Pata

They decided to stay at the NAIA Terminal 2 as they waited with other passengers for their uncertain flights.

From Cotabato, Piong and his wife were supposed to be flying to Saudi Arabia to work as driver and domestic helper. But restrictions on flights in light of the threat of COVID-19 have left them stranded.

"Sobrang hirap po. 'Yung pagkain namin hinhingi lang namin sa kapitbahay namin. Hindi ko alam sa mga kasama ko, pero sa amin talaga, ni isang itlog wala kaming makuha, ni isang kilong bigas,” he said.

Joanne Castro Maluloy-on from Agusan del Sur was also set to work abroad but was stranded by the lockdowns. Maluloy-on’s mother passed away and she was not able to see her due to travel restrictions.

“Kanina po, mga 1 o’clock ng hapon. Tinawagan po kami ng mga taga-LGU Tourism na pumunta dito sa NAIA Terminal 2 kasi may libreng pasakay papuntang Davao na C130 po,” she said.

Airport personnel advised those who would like to be chance passengers that there will be no guarantee for flights, saying that they might be waiting for nothing.

Stranded tourists are advised to coordinate with the Department of Tourism, while stranded students can be accommodated by the Office of the President and the Department of Transportation.

For stranded OFWs, they can reach out to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Department of Labor and Employment.

However, like Joy Bunda, there were stranded passengers who are clueless on how to coordinate with the authorities.

“Nahihirapan po kaming mag-process ng papers namin since hindi po kami nasa accommodation nila. So ang hinahanap nila swab test, which is hindi po nila tinuturo kasi daw po dapat nasa coordination ng OWWA po,” Bunda said.

Medical certificates from the local health office and travel passes from the police are among the requirements for travel.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier said domestic flights are allowed between areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) provided proper coordination is done with the concerned LGUs.

Some LGUs, however, are not keen on allowing the resumption of domestic flights, resulting in flight cancellations and passengers getting stranded in airports.

On Wednesday, local airlines decried what they described as "unclear" guidelines of some local governments on domestic flights resumption in their area.

"'Yung ibang mga city is unclear. Yung mga ibang city they are saying, although they are [under] general community quarantine, they don't want passengers in air transport," said Roberto Lim, vice chairman of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP).

Due to this, Lim called on airport authorities such as Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority , Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and Clark International Airport to clarify the matter.

"We hope this is clarified by the airport authorities—Mactan, CAAP, Clark—so that the air carriers providing domestic transport, they [can] already resume," he said.

Lim said flights have been ready since June 1 when the government placed Metro Manila under GCQ. —LBG, GMA News