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Zambo flights resume today

MANILA, Philippines - Flights will resume today to and from the Zamboanga International Airport (ZIA) after attacks by the Moro National Liberation Front forced authorities to shut it down Monday last week.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) lifted the Notice to Airman it issued the other day that is valid until Sept. 21, as situation at the ZIA started to improve.

CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III told journalists yesterday that they allowed Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific (CebuPac) to mount one flight each today and two flights each tomorrow.

He said CAAP deputy director general John Andrews would be on the first plane from Manila to Zamboanga to oversee the preliminary flight.

On Tuesday, Hotchkiss and Andrews took a private plane owned by PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang to Zamboanga in order to assess the situation and consult with the Crisis Committee chaired by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar.

Hotchkiss talked with the airlines management on the resumption of flights.

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Andrews said the suspension of commercial flights to and from Zamboanga City since Sept. 9 has affected 5,200 passengers of CebuPac and 1,200 for PAL Express.

Andrews said for now passengers would be allowed only one piece of hand-carried luggage.

PAL, CebuPac and other airlines welcomed CAAP’s move.

Flight schedule

PAL Express will mount a Manila-Zamboanga-Manila flight today and two flights each on Friday and Saturday using the Airbus A320 aircraft that can accommodate up to 180 passengers.

The flights are scheduled as follows:

Flight 2P 995 will depart Manila at 11:40 a.m. and arrive in Zamboanga at 1:15 p.m. today.

Flight 2P 996 will leave Zamboanga at 2 p.m. and arrive in Manila at 3:40 p.m. Tomorrow and on Saturday, flight 2P 993 will depart Manila at 9 a.m. and arrive in Zamboanga at 10:40 a.m. Flight 2P 994 will leave Zamboanga at 11:10 a.m. and arrive in Manila 12:40 p.m.

Flight 2P 997 will depart Manila 1:50 p.m. and arrive in Zamboanga at 3:30 p.m. Flight 2P 998 will leave Zamboanga at 4 p.m. and arrive in Manila 5:30 p.m. PAL Express said ticketed passengers booked on the above flight schedule would be prioritized while remaining seats would be given to passengers of previously cancelled flights on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Flights from Zamboanga to Cebu, Davao, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi remain suspended while schedule of flights for succeeding days will be announced later.

Passengers are advised to visit the PAL/PAL Express websites philippineairlines.com orflypalexpress.com or call PAL/PAL Express Reservations 855-8888 or 855-9000 for updates. Meanwhile, CebuPac will contact its passengers originally booked on Manila-Zamboanga-Manila flights today for their options, which include taking the flight, rebooking, full refund, or rerouting or proceeding with the previously rebooked or cancelled flight.

CebuPac is requesting passengers on special flights today to check in early and to cooperate with the airport’s special security procedures. – With Rudy Santos, Roel Pareño

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