DOT flies out 56 stranded foreigners from GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 March) – At least 56 stranded foreign tourists were flown from this city to the Clark International Airport on Thursday afternoon through a special flight arranged by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Edgardo Cueto, manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) here, said Friday the foreigners, who came from Davao City, were affected by the cancellation of domestic and international flights as a result of the community quarantine due to the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

He said the special commercial flight of the Cebu Pacific left the city international airport for Clark at 2:15 p.m.

“It was part of the recovery flights arranged by the DOT to allow stranded foreign tourists to return home amid the lockdown,” he told reporters.

He said the move was supported by Caap and the city government, through the City Economic Management and Cooperative Development Office (Cemcdo).

A report released by Cemcdo said the foreigners were stranded following the cancellation of their return flights.

It said the recovery flight was facilitated by DOT Regions 11 and 12, in coordination with Cebu Pacific.

The stranded tourists were also provided by DOT, city government and Caap with local transportation, meals and accommodation.

Cemcdo assured the flight followed the safety protocols for Covid-19.

“Some of the passengers were (later) shuttled to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for their international flights,” it said.

Cueto said the recovery flight was only for a single outbound travel and the ban on all passenger flights at the city airport remains in effect.

He said they have fully implemented the closure of the airport to passenger flights based on Executive Order No. 13 issued by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera that took effect last Tuesday.

The airport closure affected at least 11 outbound passenger flights from the city to Manila, Cebu, Iloilo and Clark. (Richelyn Gubalani/MindaNews)