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ITF, TUCP seek more flights for stranded seafarers

Groups seek more flights for stranded seafarers
William B. Depasupil August 13, 2020

THE seafaring sector has asked the government to allow additional humanitarian flights to ferry in and out of the country an estimated 100,000 seafarers who are either stranded abroad or waiting for flights to board their ships.

In a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), Associated Philippine Seafarers Union (APSU), Associated Marine fficers’ and eamen’s Union of the Philippines (Amosup) and Qatar Airways expressed their support for the seafaring industry and offered additional daily humanitarian flights to the airports in Cebu, Clark and Manila.

The group said providing more flights would address the growing backlog.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) also expressed support to the seafaring industry, saying 80,000 to 100,000 Filipino seamen were in danger of not being able to go home or of being deployed because of lack of available flights.

“This has to be immediately addressed by the government otherwise we are at risk of losing the international seafaring market,” TUCP President Rep. Raymond Medoza said.

The government, he added, should consider the offer of Qatar Airways to open additional flights to Cebu, Clark and Manila to help clear the bottlenecks caused by the caps on arrivals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other major ports.

“There is a need for enhanced interventions to save this multibillion-dollar industry. Many of our crew are already serving overextended contracts — this is extremely dangerous to their health and safety, as well as to the health and safety of those working in the ports,” the group said.

The NAIA imposed a limit of 3,000 arriving passengers and 3,000 for departure daily, while Clark and Mactan airports allow only 1,500 each for arrivals and departures.