By Dhel Nazario
Airport operations have been steadily maintained by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in airports it manages to ensure that passenger and cargo flights allowed under the guidelines are able to land and fly.
The agency previously enforced tighter measures pursuant to the restrictions placed by community quarantines imposed by both the national and local governments in order to suppress the spread of COVID-19.
In coordination with local government units (LGUs) and airlines, CAAP-operated airports such as the airports in Busuanga, Laguindingan, Butuan, General Santos, Zamboanga, Dipolog, and Bohol-Panglao are continuously launching sweeper flights to assist and transport stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and foreign passengers to our international airports where they can board flights to their international destinations.
As of March 28, a total of 367 sweeper flights have flown to our regional airports for this cause.
The sweeper flights, catered to by the remaining personnel stationed at CAAP airports, serve as the frontliners of aviation in this difficult time. With the help of CAAP frontliners such as the airport cleaners, firefighters, medical staff, security personnel, ground staff, and air traffic operators, operations in the country’s regional commercial airports are unhampered and passengers and cargo remain to be serviced.
But with their bravery also comes the obvious risks that come with working as a frontliner. With protective gear reaching its limit, several airport frontliners have started their own efforts to help protect themselves from getting infected by the virus by producing their own face shields.
“Our skeletal team here at Zamboanga International Airport started this activity because we wanted to help protect our frontliners, to show them that we are with them in this together, and that together, we can continue serving our people and patrons,” CAAP Area Manager 9 Toto Alfonso said.
Meanwhile, CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco lauded Zamboanga International Airport’s efforts and called for solidarity as the nation and the aviation industry fights to thrive amidst COVID-19.
“We all know how this is affecting the aviation industry, but unitedly, and with the resiliency that I have seen in our frontliners, I know that we will get through,” Sydiongco said. “As we persevere to maintain orderliness in our operations each day, I am proud and comforted by the fact that we have frontliners bravely serving the Filipino people,” Sydiongco said.