Suspension of flights in Zamboanga City defended
Cecille Suerte Felipe, Bebot Sison Jr. (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II yesterday defended the suspension of commercial flights in Zamboanga City to ensure the safety of the general public.

“There were instances when some rebels were firing at the aircraft carrying relief goods. Last Tuesday, our firemen on board a fire truck were about to respond to a fire incident when the rebels fired at them,” Roxas said over radio dzRH.

Roxas added the decision to suspend commercial flights was also made by airline firms following the recommendation of the military.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced the closure of the Zamboanga International Airport until today.

CAAP director general William Hotckiss III issued a NOTAM (notice to airman) closing commercial air operations of Zamboanga International Airport to all carriers except military aircraft.

Some 30 commercial flights were cancelled yesterday – 16 flights of Cebu Pacific and 14 of PAL Express of Philippine Airlines.

The NOTAM was issued by CAAP ordering the closure of Zamboanga airport, citing the ongoing battle between government forces and the Misuari-led faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

PAL advised passengers not to proceed to the airport but instead call PAL and PAL Express hotlines for rebooking or refund assistance.

Cebu Pacific, on the other hand, said affected passengers could rebook their flights within 30 days from the original departure date or choose a travel fund or a full refund of their fares.

The budget airline also said passengers could also reroute their flights to the nearest alternate station in Zamboanga City.

Roxas added the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is planning a special flight of C-130 cargo plane from Zamboanga to General Santos City to ferry the stranded passengers of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. – With Lawrence Agcaoili, Rudy Santos

CEBU PACIFIC CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY OF THE PHILIPPINES EXPRESS OF PHILIPPINE AIRLINES GENERAL SANTOS CITY INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECRETARY MANUEL ROXAS LAST TUESDAY MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE ROXAS ZAMBOANGA CITY ZAMBOANGA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
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