Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN) — PHILIPPINE AIRLINES (PAL) continues to bring home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Also very important is the PAL fleet’s time in the sky that helps keep the iron birds in tip-top shape and ensure pilots’ flying proficiency.
The flag carrier’s pilots are rotated by the airlines’ Flight Operations Department (FOD), giving everyone a chance to get rid of any rust during Covid-19 pandemic.
“Let me stress that PAL carries out special flights, sweeper flights, cargo flights. Our Flight Operations Department rotate our pilots for these flights,” PAL Spokesperson Cielo Villaluna told SDN — Science and Digital News.
PAL’s latest forays in the sky brought home sea-based OFWs of the Queen Mary Celebrity Cruise Ship.
Villaluna said the airlines’ Boeing 777 Flight PR 721 from London, England, to Manila, carried 329 passengers.
“This is just one of many PAL flights which have carried our countrymen home. Your flag carrier has also flown to Manila OFWs based in Vancouver and Toronto (in Canada), Sydney and Melbourne (Australia), Maldives, and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia),” she says.
The flight from London’s Heathrow Airport came on the same day (Saturday, April 25) with the flight from Maldives.
PAL Airbus A330-343 Flight PR 8709 from the island paradise flew 336 OFWs home who worked in Maldives’ hotel industry.
“With many of our kababayans (countrymen) wishing to fly back to mother country, Philippine Airlines heeded the call via repatriation flight PR 8708/8079 Manila-Maldives-Manila,” she adds.
It was the first time a PAL plane touched land in Maldives, she pointed out, the country not being in the airlines’ regular destination list. In the process, PAL added aviation history to its long list of milestone “firsts.”
More mercy flights are coming to get Filipinos home.
An article on Auphilippines.com written by Dirk Andrei Salcedo, it was reported the flight landed at Velana International Airport in Male, the capital of Maldives.
Salcedo said the repatriation mission was carried out in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Consulate in the Republic of Maldives as they endeavored to get home the Filipinos.
PAL’s 368-seater Airbus A330-343 made history for the flag carrier.
“The Filipino community in the Maldives warmly welcomed the arrival of the flag carrier. Proud photos and videos were posted online. Well-wishers also posted their greetings for their countrymen who are currently flying back to the Philippines,” Salcedo notes. (PAL Flight PR 8079 arrived in Manila on Saturday evening.)
It is not going to be the last of the mercy flights. More coming.
Villaluna said in the line up of coming repatriation flights include Australia (Darwin, and again Melbourne and Sydney), and London as well as Milan, Italy, to get home stranded OFWs and other Filipino expatriates.
PAL’s flights during the Covid-19 pandemic include ferrying back home foreign nationals in the Philippines stranded by the novel coronavirus crisis.
“PAL has always played a huge role in repatriating Filipinos, even from countries not in their destination list, even during times of war or civil unrest,” recalls Villaluna.
Some of these were during the Gulf War in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm and in 2014 when PAL flights brought home Filipinos working in war-torn Libya through Malta, a 40-minute neighbor of Italy by air.
“These are just two of those countless moments when PAL stood up amidst dangerous events to fly back Filipinos,” she emphasizes.
Meanwhile, PAL flights in the time of the war against Covid-19, Villaluna said the flag carrier “takes extra precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every flight.”
She said PAL management has provisions for personal protective equipment (PPEs) for the flight attendants to ensure their safety as well as the airline adhering to strict-government imposed protocols.
As this developed, Villaluna reiterated that because of the second extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), all the domestic and international flights of PAL are cancelled until May 15, 2020.
She said PAL intends to resume its flights the next day “if allowed by government authorities, global public health conditions and travel environment.” (SDN)
Featured photo of a Philippine Airlines jumbo jet file of SDN — Science and Digital News.