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CAAP lifts flight ban on damaged airports

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) yesterday lifted the Notice to Airman (NOTAM), or closure order, on all domestic airports affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda except the Daniel Z. Romualdez airport in Tacloban City.

As of yesterday, only Tacloban domestic airport was partially open to allow limited turbo prop flights to give way to humanitarian missions ferrying relief supplies and equipment.

CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III said that it would take days or even weeks before Tacloban airport can accept bigger commercial aircraft like Airbus 320 or Boeing B737 because of limitations of service at the terminal, which was totally damaged by Yolanda.

“We would like to inform the riding public that inasmuch as we wanted to bring back normal operations, the airport terminal itself was totally damaged and we are now building a temporary terminal to service the needs of passengers,” Hotchkiss added.

CAAP also waived the fees and charges to all flights that will transport relief goods, medical personnel, relief operations personnel and recovery equipment in affected areas.

Commercial flights resume

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As this developed, Philippine Airlines, PALex and Cebu Pacific (CEB) started operating commercial flights to Tacloban via Cebu yesterday to help passengers whose flights were cancelled because of Yolanda.

CEB also announced that its flights to Kalibo and Busuanga have resumed.

CEB canceled 14 domestic flights, two flights from Manila-Roxas-Manila, two flights from Cebu-Tac-loban-Cebu, and four flights from Manila-Tacloban-Manila.

Affected passengers may rebook their flights for travel within 30 days, free of charge. They may also reroute to the nearest alternate airport or opt for full refund or full travel fund.

CEB’s scheduled flights to Roxas will resume tomorrow. The airline is also working closely with the government on the resumption of normal operations to Tacloban airport at the soonest possible time.

Meanwhile, CEB passengers with domestic and international flights from Nov. 7 to 15 to or from the Visayas region, Bicol region, Palawan, Mindoro and select Mindanao destinations still have the same option to rebook or reroute their flights or get full refund or travel fund even if their flights have not yet been cancelled.

Telcos restore service in Tacloban

Smart Communications Inc. of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. have restored cellular coverage in Tacloban City that was heavily devastated by Yolanda.

Smart said it has restored cellular coverage at the downtown area of Tacloban City yesterday morning as part of its efforts to support emergency relief operations efforts of the government and humanitarian agencies.

Likewise, coverage in two more areas in Tacloban City as well as Borongan in Eastern Samar and Dulag in Leyte was restored yesterday.

Subscribers of Sun Cellular of Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc. in the area have also been provided access to the Smart network to boost their signal.

On the other hand, Globe said 50 percent of base stations adversely affected by the super typhoon have already been restored.

In the Visayas alone, 42 percent of Globe’s 3G enabled sites adversely affected by the typhoon have been restored. Globe has also reactivated 31 percent of 2G-enabled sites affected by the typhoon.

Still no power in Bohol, Leyte

The provinces of Bohol, Leyte and some parts of Panay, however, are still without electricity as transmission and power facilities are still down, the Department of Energy and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said in its latest advisory.

The NGCP said restoration efforts are continuing and that many of its facilities and transmission lines in Batangas, Cebu, Bacolod and Panay have been restored as of late Sunday.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla also said generator sets would be deployed in affected areas in the coming days.

Petilla earlier said that restoration efforts could take two months, especially in Leyte, as some areas there are not accessible and passable.

This developed as Energy Development Corp., the listed geothermal company of the Lopez Group, said that it has commenced clearing operations of roads inside its Leyte concession area.

 “The cooling towers of the Malitbog, Tongonan and Mahanagdong Power Plants have sustained damage. On the other hand, the Upper Mahiao Power Plant (which does not have a cooling tower) may apparently be returned back to service quickly,” EDC said in a disclosure yesterday.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will also lend generator sets and batteries used in the May 13 midterm polls to areas experiencing power outages.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body decided to release its 700 generation sets to the national government for use in affected areas.

“We also have 80,000 batteries so just imagine how it can help in the areas that still do not have electricity. We are coordinating with the Office of the President. The Comelec had already passed a resolution on this,” Brillantes added.

The Comelec is eyeing to course the generation sets and the batteries through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

PCG: 6 bodies found in Palawan

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), meanwhile, received reports that at least six bodies were found in different maritime incidents in Palawan after Yolanda ravaged the Visayas and some parts of Luzon.

PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that PCG district commander Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista identified the casualties as Nick Roxas, 45; Erwin Roque, 49; Carlos Catamara, 47; Carlito Arcamo, 47; and Hover Castillan, 32; and Leonardo Sapalicio, 50. – With Evelyn Macairan, Iris Gonzales, Sheila Crisostomo, Lawrence Agcaoili


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