By: Inquirer Visayas, Julie M. Aurelio, Leila B. Salaverria
Commercial flights are set to resume in at least eight airports in the country this week as the country relaxes travel restrictions, but passengers should brace themselves for more waiting time and a host of new health protocols.
Those taking international flights should be at the airport four hours before their departure, while those taking domestic flights should be there three hours before their plane leaves, according to Philippine Airlines (PAL).
Commercial flights are set to resume at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Clark International Airport and airports in Romblon, Legazpi City, Naga City, Cauayan City, Palanan town and Marinduque, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Tuesday in Iloilo City.
Galvez said the opening of airports and ports would help revive the economy.
The chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said the airports would be allowed to cater to commercial flights but only for work-related trips or essential travel.
Seven other airports have declared willingness to accept flights subject to observance of health measures. These include the airports in San Jose in Antique, Laguindingan in Misamis Oriental, Camiguin and the cities of Dipolog, Pagadian, Ozamiz and General Santos.
Galvez said interzonal travel between areas under general community quarantine were allowed but it was up to local governments to declare the readiness of their airports and ports to commercial flights.
“What can we do if we allow planes to fly but local governments reject them?” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a press briefing.
As to foreigners, the government has yet to decide if it will allow them entry amid the pandemic, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque noted that the government was already doing a lot of work in testing arriving overseas Filipino workers for COVID-19.
Filipinos holding foreign passports may not be allowed to enter the country if they do not have dual citizenship, he said.
Wearing of masks, temperature controls and disinfection of aircraft are among the health recommendations that the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) published on Monday.
The recommendations are intended to serve as a “framework” for assuring the safety of passengers and workers on planes and at airports.
On their arrival at airports, travelers should present a health certificate and undergo an initial temperature check, under the guidelines.
Online check-in before arriving at the airport should be given priority, and passages through security should be re-thought to limit physical contact and waiting in lines.
Mobile tickets are advised, as well as other forms of no-contact technology, such as facial or eye scans.
The full story in today’s Philippine Daily Inquirer print edition