Immigration bureau says international flights at NAIA still restricted even in GCQ

Immigration bureau says international flights at NAIA still restricted even in GCQ
Pasay City, where the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is located, will be under General Community Quarantine starting June 1.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Even with the easing of lockdown protocols in Metro Manila next month, international flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will remain restricted, the Bureau of Immigration said Friday.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Thursday night that Metro Manila will graduate to general community auarantine after 11 weeks of stringent lockdown protocols.

But Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente noted that travel restrictions which existed under the enhanced community quarantine and modified ECQ remain.

“As a consequence, our operations at the NAIA are still downscaled and our personnel there are still on skeletal and rotational deployment,” he said in a statement.

International flights also remain suspended, BI added.

Foreign nationals can board their flights, but Filipinos are not allowed to depart the country “unless they are [Overseas Filipino Workers], permanent residents or holders of student visa in their country of destination.”

BI Acting Ports Operations chief Grifton Medina said the NAIA is currently averaging only 20 to 30 flights daily. A third of these are special flights for transporting medical supplies and other kinds of cargo.

Passenger flights, meanwhile, are “mostly repatriation flights” for returning OFWs and chartered sweeper flights for stranded foreigners in the Philippines.

BI also reminded that under Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases' guidelines, only OFWs; Filipino citizens and their spouses and dependents; permanent residents; and foreign diplomats are allowed to enter the Philippines.

Domestic flights in GCQ localities resume

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said in the same address aired Thursday night that domestic flights will be allowed between areas under GCQ.

The transport chief also assured Duterte that the department is expanding operations in international aviation gateways to include Clark, Cebu and Davao.

These new international gateways will be equipped with testing laboratories for arriving passengers.  — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Franco Luna



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