CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and other Cebu officials have asked the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to lift the 300-per-day limit on international flight passengers arriving at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Lapu-Lapu City.
The public officials claimed that the hotels in Cebu now have the capacity to accept overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who need to stay in the hotels while waiting for the results of their Sars-CoV-2 swab tests.
The request to the CAB was announced by the Provincial Government through the Provincial Information Office.
“We are now requesting that the 300-per-day limit be lifted and the CAB advisory revoked,” Garcia told CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla.
She further said: “We understand that a few days ago this was the prudent thing to do, especially since we were running out of rooms. A policy is passed in Manila, but we are just rather concerned that nobody did the math—that if you were to keep so many passengers for 10 days in the hotel rooms, we would run out of rooms.”
Garcia’s request was approved by government officials and MCIA administrators during an emergency meeting on May 17, 2021.
Arcilla, who attended the meeting via Zoom video conference app, promised to approve the request only after he receives a copy of the request through a resolution.
The MCIA Authority sent the resolution on the same day.
The CAB advisory limiting international passengers arriving at MCIA was issued last May 12, after the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases
ordered to limit the number of international flight arrivals at MCIA because there were not enough facilities.
During the emergency meeting, it was learned that the RIATF did not pass a resolution asking the CAB to put a cap on arriving international flight passengers. The attendees learned later that the request on limiting the passengers reportedly came from the Office of Civil Defense.
Edilyth Maribojoc of the corporate affairs office of MCIA operator GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., said that as of Thursday, May 20, the airport still implemented the 300-per-day limit as the new CAB advisory has yet to arrive.
MCIA stopped accepting international flights on May 14-15 after the 2,500 rooms of 35 accredited quarantine hotels sheltering OFWs and ROFs were already occupied.
Pursuant to a recent order by the governor, all Cebuano overseas workers and ROFs arriving at MCIA are required to undergo a swab test on arrival. They usually wait two to three days, depending on the time their swab test results come out. If the result is negative, they are allowed to return to their homes.
Lifting the cap on international flight passengers can aid the airline industry, said Garcia.
“First of all, this will help our airline industry that is really in bad shape right now and they need more flights to help our airport that has been really in the doldrums with practically no activity. This will also help our OFWs and ROFs who are scrambling for seat availability,” said Garcia. (ANV / KAL)