Stranded PAL passengers flown out of Batanes


Philippine Daily Inquirer

BASCO, BATANES—Close to 100 stranded passengers have been flown out of this capital town, following canceled flights that have been attributed to a near-accident at the Basco airport runway on June 3.

A damaged landing gear forced a Philippine Airlines (PAL) turboprop plane to belly-land on Saturday, prompting airport officials to close the runway to give its crew time to move the grounded aircraft.

The plane remained grounded on the runway until Monday when replacement parts and mechanics were flown in a Philippine Air Force helicopter.

“While the situation was resolved on Monday, the aircraft on ground caused the cancellation of several Manila-Basco/Basco-Manila flights, equivalent to six round-trip flights,” a PAL statement said, adding that some 200 passengers were stranded.

A passenger said they were informed that no seats were available until June 13. Stranded passengers boarded on a first-in, first-out policy.

As of Tuesday, 96 passengers had been flown out as the first of five chartered flights arrived in Basco.

A combination of regular PAL flights and chartered services would be carried out “over the next two days to declog Basco of stranded passengers,” according to PAL.

PAL sent its own plane, which landed here at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, instead of the scheduled 7:30 a.m., said Roland Cabittac, manager of the Basco airport.

Flights from Skyjet and Airswift Airline, however, were not disrupted.

The front landing gear tire of the 76-seat Q400 turboprop plane burst on touchdown but all its passengers, including two pilots and two cabin crew members, were safe, according to Mary Sulyn Sagorsor, area manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

The plane arrived in Basco from Manila at 12:40 p.m. It descended while rough winds blew through the island province, some passengers said. —Reports from Melvin Gascon, Juliet Cataluña and Richard Balonglong