Passengers stranded in Batanes as 2 PAL planes suffer glitches
MANILA, Philippines – Around 250 Philippine Airlines (PAL) passengers were stranded in Batanes as two of the flag carrier's planes suffered glitches.
One PAL plane was grounded at the Basco Airport in Batanes over the weekend due to a "tire issue," while another experienced technical issues on Tuesday, June 6, before it was able to set off to the island at the northernmost tip of the country.
The plane with the "tire issue" was repaired on Monday morning, June 5, but it was stuck on the Basco Airport runway "for some time" and led to the airport's temporary closure as well as flight cancellations, said PAL.
"A PAL aircraft was grounded in Batanes last Saturday, June 3, and was restored back into operation just recently. This led to the cancellation of several Manila-Basco-Manila flights," PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna told Rappler in a phone call on Tuesday.
"The aircraft issue was eventually resolved when aircraft parts and mechanics were flown in via an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chopper," she added.
Villaluna also said "no passengers were injured despite the tire issue."
To make matters worse, however, another PAL flight scheduled to fly out of Manila to Basco on Tuesday experienced "technical problems" and got canceled.
PAL declined to elaborate on the technical issues involved.
"The Manila-Basco flight slated to operate today (Tuesday) was unfortunately also canceled due to aircraft situation. PAL is exerting all efforts to restore operations to and from Basco. PAL apologizes to all passengers stranded and inconvenienced by the cancellations," Villaluna said.
"All affected passengers were either given hotel accommodations or transportation allowance. Food expenses were also covered by PAL," she added.
Overall, Villaluna said "8 roundtrip flights from Manila to Basco were affected by the two incidents, resulting in a situation that has affected around 250 passengers."
Normal operations to resume
The PAL spokesperson said normal operations will resume on Wednesday, June 7. In addition to that, PAL is "making chartered flight arrangements to help carry passengers out of Basco."
"A total of 96 passengers have been flown out of Basco as of today (Tuesday) as the first of 5 chartered flights arrived on the island. A combination of regular PAL flights and chartered services will be carried out over the next two days to declog Basco of stranded passengers," Villaluna said.
She added that PAL staff are advising passengers on whether they are assigned to regular PAL flights or to chartered flights.
In a statement sent to Rappler on Tuesday, PAL Express president Bonifacio Sam thanked the AFP for its assistance.
"PAL wishes to express its appreciation to the Armed Forces of the Philippines headed by the Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año, who, together with Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr, Rear Admiral Jorge Amba, Lieutenant Commander Abraham Claro, and Captain Roy Trinidad, helped restore our operations in Basco, Batanes," Sam said.
According to the flag carrier's domestic summer schedule, PAL Express flies once daily from Manila to Basco, with an additional flight a day between April 1 and June 30.
It also operates daily flights from Basco to Manila with an additional flight Tuesday to Friday from April 4 to June 29, and an additional flight Saturday to Monday from April 1 to June 30. – Rappler.com