AFTER almost 15 months of non-flight operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Laoag International Airport (LIA) finally resumed operations as it welcomed Philippine Airlines (PAL) Flight PR256 recently at Gabu Norte, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
Despite the pandemic threat, the few but brave PPE-equipped LIA Customs personnel cleared the said flight which repatriated 168 returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were stranded in Malaysia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March 15, 2020.
The said flight is the first of a series of repatriation flights.
Once approved by the provincial government of Ilocos Norte, PAL plans to bring home more OFWs from Hong Kong, Singapore and Honolulu, Hawaii.
After disembarking, however, passengers of the said flight, who are Filipinos from different parts of the country, shall undergo a quarantine period.
After complying with all health and safety protocols, those bound for Visayas and Mindanao regions will be serviced by the sweeper flights of PAL while those within Luzon will be assisted by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and shall be provided with a chartered bus.
“Yesterday’s flight was a historic flight indeed. This is the very first time since pandemic, that Laoag International Airport, with the joint efforts of several agencies such as PAL, CAAP, Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, Provincial Gov’t. of Ilocos Norte, OWWA and some private companies opened its complete services to our dear OFWs, non OWFs and diplomats. Some of them were stranded in Malaysia for a long time. We are very glad to be part of their homecoming, “ said COO III Ma. Luisa P. Relon, LIA Customs Appraiser.
“My heartfelt kudos to the team for their superb efforts and dedication, notwithstanding enduring the very long hour flight duty wearing complete PPEs. Hope we will be always safe and healthy in clearing the upcoming repatriation flights,” added LIA Aircrafts Operations Division Chief COO III Raechelle B. Cuanso.