DUE to wind factor, Philippine Airlines (PAL) Flight PR5683, which was scheduled for landing at the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) on July 5, was diverted to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) at the Clark Freeport.
According to a report from PAL, the tailwind (wind blowing from behind the aircraft) was “not within limits.”
PAL Flight PR5683 originated from Dammam, Saudi Arabia and carried 309 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), two seamen, and one returning overseas Filipino (ROF).
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma said that despite the diversion of PAL Flight PR5683 to Clark, its passengers will have the obligatory quarantine at accredited hotels and accommodation establishments in the Subic Bay Freeport.
In an earlier report, SBIA said it will be accepting rerouted PAL flights for OFWs starting July 5 under a government program to facilitate the return of overseas Filipinos during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eisma said six PAL flights are expected to land at the SBIA this month to ferry home mostly OFWs from Dammam and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
The flights have been scheduled on July 5, 7, 15, 17, 25, and 27 with an average of 230 passengers in each of the PAL Airbus A330 flights to Subic.
“The arrival of OFWs via Subic is in line with the policy of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to impose a limit for all international airports in the country to accommodate just 1,500 passengers per day,” Eisma said.
Accordingly, PAL has distributed its flights to various airports to accommodate the market in accordance with its recovery plan, Eisma added.
“Once again, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone is in a unique position to be of service to the Filipino nation, particularly repatriated workers, who long to be home but were hindered by pandemic restrictions,” Eisma said.
The SBMA chief pointed out that Subic also began serving as a Crew-Change One-Stop-Shop hub since September last year, thereby helping bring home stranded Filipino seafarers or sending them back to work after some vacation.
“Our assistance, we are proud to add, would adequately help flesh out President Duterte’s policy that ‘no one should be left behind’,” Eisma added.
Under the PAL flights set-up, arriving passengers would be quarantined for seven to 10 days in Subic Bay Freeport hotels and accommodation facilities accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and certified by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).
Eisma said this would create “positive impact on local tourism that would also redound to the benefit of workers, business establishments, and service operators in our communities.”
Accommodation facilities outside the Freeport may also have the opportunity to take in any overflow that may ensue, she added.
“I really hope this will be the start of something good not only for the Subic airport and the hotels in the Freeport, but also for the bigger community that helps keep the Subic economy running,” Eisma said.
Meanwhile, SBMA OIC-Senior Deputy Administrator for Operations Ronnie Yambao said his office has been in close coordination with the BOQ to ensure that all health safety protocols would be in place and strictly enforced at the Subic airport for the arrival of PAL flights.
The SBMA has also synchronized its efforts with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to ensure seamless processing of passengers, as well as with PAL to meet their requirements, Yambao said.
He said the Subic airport is being upgraded since last year to accommodate passenger, as well as corporate aircraft.
He said the Subic agency is implementing this year a P91.3-million package consisting of 12 projects to upgrade equipment and improve facilities in the Subic airport.