Tacloban-Manila and Tacloban-Clark flights
By: JOEY A. GABIETA
TACLOBAN CITY- It would be a 50-50 rerouting scheme. This was the agreement arrived between Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade and Sec. Michael Lloyd Dino, residential assistant for the Visayas, regarding the rerouting of some Tacloban-Manila flights to Clark International Airport. The 50-50 rerouting scheme will also apply to other major airports in the Visayas like in Cebu, Iloilo and Bacolod. “This fifty-fifty rerouting scheme would mean to reroute fifty percent of all Visayas area flights to Clark International Airport and the remaining fifty percent be allowed to continue landing at the Manila International Airport,” Dino said in his communication to President Duterte dated August 15. Dino also proposed if this rerouting scheme should be implemented, airline companies that would service the Tacloban-Clark route should provide discount to the passengers. However, i’s unclear yet as to when this rerouting scheme would be implemented. The plan to reroute the Tacloban-Manila flights to Clark International Airport was met with strong opposition from air travellers from the region as well as business groups and officials.
Congressmen from the region made their personal appeal to Sec. Tugade not to push through with the plan saying it would result to inconvenience of the passengers. Leyte Rep. Yedda Romualdez (1st district) said that other flights should also be diverted to the Clark International Airport. “The Tacloban Airport will do its part to address the worsening air traffic congestion in Metro Manila. We are very glad to contribute but we should also take the option of diverting some of the flights from Cebu and Davao to Clark in Pampanga to strike a balance and achieve a successful decongestion program without jeopardizing the business and tourism industry of a particular province and region,” Romualdez said in a press statement. For his part, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone asked the Department of Transportation| (DOTr) to consult first the affected passengers and other stakeholders on this planned rerouting scheme.
“This plan of the DOTr is anti-poor and anti-people. This will aggravate the poor condition of Eastern Visayas,” he said. The rerouting scheme was announced by Sec. Tugade last August 10 saying it was the proposal made by the airline companies. The business sector slammed this proposal saying it would affect the recovery efforts of the region still reeling from the devastation caused by supertyphoon “Yolanda.” The Tacloban-Manila flight takes about an hour and additional 20 minutes if the route would involve the Clark International Airport in Mabalacat, Pampanga. And it would take another four hours to reach Manila.
A personnel from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)-Tacloban, which supervises the operation of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, said that they have no idea on this planned rerouting. “We have not yet received any advisory pertaining this planned rerouting scheme,” the personnel, who asked not to be identified for not being authorized, said. The Tacloban DZR Airport is being serviced by three major carries, the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia. Currently, it has 15 daily flights for Cebu and Manila. Last year, about 1.14 million passengers used the facility and carried 568,545 tons of various cargos.