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Govt urged to bare APEC flight disruptions

Senator Ralph Recto on Saturday urged the administration  to inform the public of flight disruptions during the arrival of the 21 heads of state that will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference in Manila in November to avoid congestion and inconvenience to the travellers.

Unless the government does something in advance to advise the public of APEC dignitaries, a repeat of  airport congestion will occur similar to that when Pope Francis flew into town, the senator said.

“We closed the airport for hours. When His Holiness left, we shut down the airspace above NAIA for almost half a day. And that was for one head of state only. How much more if 21 heads of state would descend on our congested, single-runway airport at the same time?” Recto asked.

He said that foreign heads of state will be arriving with an air fleet in tow, like US President Barack Obama with his decoy Air Force One and  escorts.

“Surely there will be commercial flight disruptions, although this has not been formally announced yet. The information about possible flight delays and no-fly zones is being embargoed for security reasons,” he said.

Despite this limitation, what government can do immediately is to advise the public about domestic and international flight disruptions on Nov. 18 to 19, when the APEC leaders are in town.

The senator said that the details can come later but what is important is that the advisory is made public this early for the sake of air travellers so that they can feel free to make adjustments to their itinerary.

“We all know that travel is complicated—from flight bookings to airport transfers to hotel reservations—that disrupting one will trigger a chain of disruptions.

For example, OFWs need to report to work on a given date or our seafarers must catch the connection to where their ships are berthed. A few hours delay will wreak havoc on their travel timetable,” he said.

Every November, NAIA handles about 85,000 arriving and departing passengers daily. If the window of disruption stretches to just 72 hours, close to a quarter-million travellers will be affected.

An airmageddon can be avoided and handled well and even muster the support of the public so long as they are not caught unaware, he added.

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