Highest accolade is in order for two of the country’s top local airline companies for swiftly responding to an appeal made by President Rodrigo Durterte for them to bring back home our distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait who are desperate to return to the country but do not have the money to pay for their fares.
Immediately after the call was made by Duterte, budget carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) announced it would be mounting a special charter flight from Kuwait to Manila for free and, for such purpose.
According to Charo Logarta Lagamon, corporate communications director of CEB, special arrangements had to be made, since CEB no longer has regular commercial air service between Manila and Kuwait. CEB also worked with the office of Department of Foreign Affairs Seretary and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait on the final travel arrangements.
For this purpose, CEB deployed an Airbus A330 aircraft -- the largest in its fleet, for the charter flight. Said aircraft has a maximum capacity of 436 passengers. CEB also provided free food and refreshment, as well as baggage allowance for all passengers on the said charter flight.
In the same breadth, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has shown that it continues to play a constructive role in helping distressed Filipinos who need urgent repatriation to the homeland.
PAL spokesperson Ma. Cielo Villaluna said the flag carrier is coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to accommodate -- free of charge -- affected OFWs on PAL’s four weekly flights from Kuwait to Manila.
Villaluna also said that a total of 300 distressed OFWs were flown in by PAL from Kuwait, aboard different, separate flights.
According to her, PAL’s regular flights from Kuwait to Manila operating four times weekly serve as ‘repatration flights’ and that PAL had been coordinating with the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait to determine those who need repatriation.
“Repatriation is free for our distressed kababayans. Our flights will be made available to those who need them most. We are an airline with the Heart of the Filipino and For the Filipino,” Cielo said.
The two leading airline companies showed that indeed, they can be relied upon when needed by the country and the citizenry. For this, they deserve our gratitude and appreciation. Hats off to them!!!
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Apparently happy and satisfied owing to the quick response of the two airline companies to his appeal for them to provide special repatriation support to distressed OFWs in Kuwait, President Duterte showed his gratitude by thanking the said companies.
He went farther by saying he is now going to ‘shut up forever,’ particularly directing his message to PAL’s top honcho, Dr. Lucio Tan.
Well obviously, Duterte was referring to PAL’s reported billions in tax liabilities which the company already settled in October last year. Duterte went on to assure that his government is ready to protect every businessman like Tan and that nobody would ask for any bribe money.
Sadly, while the President is expressing his thanks to the two airline companies, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez seems to be going the other direction. He had threatened to cancel the franchise of CEB and wants the airline to transfer some of its flights to Clark International Airport in Pampanga in a bid to decongest air traffic at NAIA. Cebu Pacific, which mainly operates in NAIA 3, was given by Alvarez only 45 days to do so.
The ‘attack’ against CEB and calling it ‘greedy’ at this time is simply ill-timed, since it had just gone out of its way to help repatriate hundreds of our distressed OFW compatriots in Kuwait, complete with provision for food, refreshments and baggage allowance.
Note that since CEB does not have any regular commercial air service between Manila and Kuwait, it even had to formulate special arrangements just to accommodate the request of President Duterte and also, apparently, as part of its corporate social responsibility too.
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