By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is fielding adequate personnel to serve passengers of repatriation and sweeper flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) amidst the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to corona virus pandemic.
“In the past few days there have been several special and chartered flights that fly in and out of NAIA. We assure our stakeholders, especially the different airlines and foreign embassies that our men are always on hand to serve flights 24 hours a day,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
Morente said the bulk of the special flights were chartered to ferry Filipinos, mostly overseas contract workers, who were stranded abroad, while there were also several sweeper flights chartered by the various embassies in the Philippines to ferry their citizens stranded due to the ECQ.
“Although we are on skeletal deployment, our officers at the NAIA continue to report in three shifts a day so as to ensure that passengers of these flights are subjected to the required immigration inspection,” the BI chief said.
BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said over 1,400 Filipinos, all of them seafarers arrived at the NAIA on Good Friday alone and the passengers were processed by immigration officers after undergoing health inspection by the Bureau of Quarantine.
Last Tuesday, Medina said a sweeper flight by Philippine Airlines flew out of the NAIA to London with 290 British passengers on board.
He added PAL has notified BI that it will be flying three more sweeper flights this week to ferry stranded citizens of Canada and Australia back to their homelands.
“Our records show that from March 30 to April 8 a total of 140 flights arrived at the NAIA terminal 1, while 126 flights departed,” Medina reported.
He said the bulk of those who arrived were Filipinos numbering 11,660 while the rest were foreigners totalling 581.
There were 5,831 foreigners and 1,728 Filipinos who departed during the same period.
“There are very little commercial flights left. Today there are only ten arriving and departing flights in NAIA Terminal 1,” he said.