GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 June) – A total of 18 flights of various airlines originally bound to and from Davao City have been diverted to this city following the shutdown on Sunday night of the Davao International Airport due to a runway accident a Cebu Pacific aircraft.
Dante Fernandez, administrative officer of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) here, said around 3,000 airline passengers have arrived and flown out of the city airport here as of 5 p.m. Monday due to the diversion or re-routing of their flights.
He said most of the re-routed passengers were booked in flights for Davao-Manila, Davao-Cebu and Davao-Iloilo and vice versa of Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL) that were scheduled from Sunday night and Monday.
“The airlines transferred the passengers from Davao City through commissioned buses starting Monday morning. Passengers of re-routed incoming flights were also ferried by the buses to Davao City,” Fernandez told reporters.
Travel by bus trips Davao to this city takes around three hours.
Fernandez said Cebu Pacific and PAL gave assurance that they would accommodate all re-routed passengers through flights scheduled until 10 p.m. Monday.
The airlines shouldered the expenses for the bus trips as well as provided food and snacks to the passengers.
“They were already checked in so all they need to do is wait for their flights,” he said.
Fernandez said Cebu Pacific has been utilizing the Airbus 319 with a capacity of 180 passengers while PAL has commissioned the 290-capacity Boeing 747 for the diverted flights.
As of 5 p.m., he said nine flights were on schedule to fly out the estimated 1,000 passengers who were still waiting at the city airport’s departure area.
The official said they received numerous complaints due to the re-routing of the flights but assured that CAAP and the concerned airlines have been doubling their efforts to address the needs and concerns of the passengers.
Florencia Langit, who was supposed to fly out of Davao City to Manila on Sunday night, said their situation was very difficult since they have brought a number of baggage and have children in tow.
Langit, who is a resident of Marikina City, just visited Davao City to attend a national convention of geodetic engineers.
“The travel (from Davao City to General Santos City) was quite long and rough and then we have to wait for a couple of hours more for our flight,” she said.
She said they were not provided with any food by Cebu Pacific personnel upon their arrival at around 2 p.m. here and while waiting for their 6:15 p.m. flight to Manila.
Several Cebu Pacific passengers of diverted flights from Manila complained to CAAP that no buses were available to ferry them to Davao City and not one airline personnel tried to assist them upon their arrival here.
“There are a lot of complaints but we understand that they were hungry and tired because of their situation. Some of them have not slept at all since Sunday night,” Fernandez said.
Meantime, Fernandez assured that the city airport is well-capable of handling night or evening flights.
He said the airport’s runway lights are fully functional and they don’t see any problem with the remaining flights scheduled for Monday evening.
All flights scheduled from Sunday night and the entire Monday at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City were earlier canceled after a Cebu Pacific plane carrying 165 passengers overshot and blocked a portion of the runway.
Authorities said the airline’s flight 5J 971 from Manila veered off the runway and hit an unpaved portion at around 7:10 p.m.
Not one among the airline’s 165 passengers and crew were hurt in the incident, which happened during heavy rain.
Fernandez said they received an advisory that the ongoing clearing of the runway will be completed on Monday night and all regular flights will resume on Tuesday.
Frederick San Felix, manager at the Davao airport, also said the Cebu Pacific plane cannot be removed until CAAP investigators finish their probe of the incident.