Tugade tells CAAP, authorities to consider opening airports in areas under GCQ

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Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 2) — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has told the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and other airport officials to consider opening airports in areas under general community quarantine.

The DOTr said doing so would make commercial flights available to passengers.

Tugade made the statement at a video conference on April 30.

“The reopening of airports in GCQ areas to commercial aviation will gradually jump-start airline operations now hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will plant the seeds for domestic tourism. This should seriously be considered,” he said.

At the meeting CAAP Director General Capt. Jim Sydiongco said airlines already have route networks within the Visayas and Mindanao and these can be used to enforce Tugade's instructions.

“Some airlines are readily capable of mounting inter island flights to serve communities from one GCQ area to another GCQ area using the inter Visayas and/or Inter Mindanao air routes,” he said.

The practice, Sydiongco said, is called the Hub and Spoke model where carriers can use regional airports as alternative hubs while other airports are closed and cannot operate regularly.

“We want to operationalize this approach before the end of next week, but of course without compromising health and safety protocols set by the IATF and the Department of Health. Pag-iisipan namin kung paano ito maisasagawa ng maayos at mabilis,” Secretary Tugade said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said some ride-hailing services will be allowed to operate at reduced capacity in areas under general community quarantine.

"Sa GCQ, pwede po ang taxi; pero 'yun nga po, limitado po ang pasahero. 'Yung mga TNVS po, mga Grab, limitado po ang pasahero, pero [sa] GCQ lang po, hindi sa ECQ," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing on Friday.

[Translation: Taxis will be permitted, but their passengers will be limited. The same applies to TNVS or Grab. But again, these will only be allowed during the GCQ, and not the ECQ.]

Roque maintained that motorcycle taxis will remain prohibited, as they violate social distancing rules.