GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 March) – Cebu Pacific Air has chartered additional cargo flights to facilitate the shipment of more food products, including tuna, from the city and neighboring areas to Manila.
Edgardo Cueto, manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) here, said Wednesday the airline has commissioned an Airbus A320 aircraft for three more cargo flights to Manila every week.
He said these will augment the five regular cargo flights every week from Tuesday to Saturday of Cebu Pacific’s ATR 72 freighters.
Each additional flight, scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday, has an estimated cargo capacity of 9 tons or 9,000 kilos, almost the same capacity as the ATR 72, he said.
Cueto said the first Airbus A320 cargo flight left the city international airport around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and the regular ATR flight at 4:30 p.m.
The shipment was composed of asparagus, assorted vegetables, fruits, prawns, fish and other seafood products, he said.
These products were previously shipped to Manila via seven daily outbound passenger flights of Cebu Pacific and the Philippine Airlines.
All passenger flights to and from the city had been suspended since March 17 due to the lockdown in Metro Manila and other areas in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat.
“This is a big relief to our producers and shippers as they mainly relied on the suspended passenger flights for their cargo,” he said in a phone interview.
Cueto said Cebu Pacific agreed to open the additional cargo flights following negotiations with local shippers, in coordination with the city government.
South Cotabato first district Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles also helped negotiate with the airline for the fielding of cargo flights that will cater to tuna and other products from the area.
The official added that the new cargo flights were only temporary as the Airbus A320 aircraft is mainly used by the airline for passenger operations. (MindaNews)